“My wife works at Mariners [as a first-grade teacher] and I don’t want to lose to my wife’s [school],” said Baker, whose better half, Ann Marie, missed the match.
Baker said Ann Marie was at home with their 2-year-old twin boys, Landon and Hayden. Ann Marie didn’t miss much as Rea slowed down Mariners’ duo of Travis and Dylan Campos.
Wilson didn’t fare much better. Defenders Javier Ramirez, Luis Herrera and Carlos Perez also helped thwart Wilson’s offense.
Perdomo and Kelvin Alcantara controlled the midfield. With the game out of reach, Baker told Perdomo he was moving him to defense.
“No,” Perdomo told Baker. “I’ll play goalie.”
Baker granted Perdomo’s demand. With 10 minutes left, Baker made the move because he trusts Perdomo.
“Luis Perdomo is probably one of the best players, if not the best, to ever play at Rea,” Baker said. “There’s not a soccer player smarter out there that I’ve seen at his age. A lot of these kids have the skills, but they don’t have the knowledge. He has the knowledge. I don’t have to talk to him too much.”
One player Baker chatted with a lot was Vargas.
Since fourth grade, Baker has attempted to talk Vargas into trying out for one of Rea’s Pilot Cup teams. One year, he even gave Vargas a chance to come out after tryouts.
“He said he was going to come and he never showed up,” Baker said. “The day before [this year’s tryouts], he said, ‘I’m still on the fence.’ I don’t really know why [he was]. Maybe he was just shy.”
Vargas broke out of his shell in a major way.
The first-year player led Rea with nine goals in the five games. The total is surprising considering Vargas’ favorite sport is basketball.
Schoolmates have seen him score at will on the court. Some Rea players were unsure of Vargas’ ability to score with his feet.
“When he started making goals” that changed, Negrete said.
There might be a changing of the guard next season in the gold division. Only Bryant Reyes, a fifth-grader, will return. The rest are sixth-graders.
Baker said Rea, which had 80 boys try out for its five fifth- and sixth-grade teams, would have less of a talent pool to pick from to form a gold division team.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Baker of repeating because Rea will only have one fifth- and sixth-grade class next year due to the school’s enrollment numbers dropping. “We’re still going to come out and we’re going to play in the gold division. We’ll be back."
The Sharks are hungry for their 10th title.
“All we’re missing is the [championship ring] for our thumb,” Baker said.