The numbers alone don’t speak to the importance of Pablo Perez to West Haven this season.
Sixteen goals and 14 assists are certainly impressive enough statistics for the Southern Connecticut Conference’s MVP. Then consider the extra defensive attention Perez received this season for being the Westies’ top scoring threat and it should come as no surprise Perez was also an All-New England selection.
“It’s really tough sometimes to go around one person, but to go around two or three, it was hard to make passes with so many people around me,” said Perez, the Register Boys Soccer Area MVP. “So 16 goals despite the double- and triple-teams is a good season for me.”
Said West Haven coach Liam Leapley: “On the field, right from the very get-go, I knew teams would double- and triple-team him and he would still beat the pressure and find the open guy. In a couple instances, Pablo beat the entire side of the field, five or six guys, to get the ball to a teammate. It’s something special, something you don’t normally see.”
Also a coaches all-state and All-SCC Quinnipiac Division selection, Perez led the Westies to a Class LL state tournament berth, losing to SCC foe Guilford in the opening round.
“The guys understood they had to work hard in order to have a good season,” Perez said.
Leapley said Perez was always thinking a few steps ahead on the field — where to go with the ball, which side of the goal to hit the direct kick to, etc. — which made him invaluable.
“You can’t replace a kid like that,” Leapley said.
Perez recently said he had relatively no interest from college soccer programs. He is putting together his own highlight tape to send to coaches to generate some interest. Many top high school soccer players from across the country play for the United States Soccer Development Academy, almost a year-round commitment to be a part of the national program. Those kids get better exposure for college recruitment.
That, in part, could explain the lack of interest in Perez.
“I’m upset about it. I want to play,” Perez said. “I’d like to be part of a good soccer program and a great academic school. I’m not going to go for just soccer.”
West Haven athletic director Jon Capone confirmed Perez is ranked 23rd in his class with a 3.966 grade-point average.
Perez said he is interested in both UConn and Rhode Island, both of which have civil engineering, a field he wishes to enter.
Leapley feels the postseason recognition will help Perez’s cause. Perez will also play for the Norwalk Polska U-18 Premier Team, and that exposure should help his recruitment as well.
“I think he improves the play of everyone around him,” Leapley said. “In college, Pablo will blossom even more. He had so much responsibility for us. He led us in goals and assists. Usually, it is one or the other. Once he plays with more players of his skill level, there will be less pressure on him and he will play even better.”