By John Philip Wyllie
It is not by accident that Morse High School defender Joaquin Hernandez wears the number four on his yellow soccer jersey. He wears it in honor of Mexican team captain and Barcelona superstar Rafael Marquez. Wednesday afternoon (12-5-07) Hernandez turned in a Marquez-like performance scoring both of his team’s goals in a 3-2 losing effort against the 3-0-2 Bonita Vista Barons. A year ago he was a major force for the Tigers when they claimed the Eastern League title and finished as CIF semifinalists. This year Hernandez hopes his team can go even farther.
“Joaquin plays to win,” according to Tigers coach Jesse Denney. “He comes out here every day with a good attitude and he really hustles. He is our team captain and we are looking for good things from him. Joaquin is our sweeper and he scored both of our goals today, so that was big. Hopefully, he will maintain that role (as a scoring threat).”
The Tigers should have plenty of offense this season with Hernandez attacking out of the defense and Gustavo Jimenez and Cristobal Mendoza pairing up top to pressure the opposing net. Once their defense jells they will become a formidable opponent for any team in the county.
Hernandez got his start in soccer at an early age. His father had been an outstanding player in his youth and he was eager to get his son involved in the “beautiful game” before he entered kindergarten. Now a high school senior, Hernandez plays for the prestigious San Dieguito Surf Club when he is not playing for the Tigers. The Surf, currently ranked sixth in the nation will head to Hawaii in June to compete in the Western Regionals. His focus now however, is entirely on the Tigers and in helping them to win a CIF championship.
“We have a pretty solid squad all the way around. Now we just have to learn to play as a unit,” Hernandez said.
With three outstanding players in Hernandez, Jimenez and Mendoza and a team full of very solid players manning the other positions, the Tigers could be a force come playoff time.
Beyond that, Hernandez has his eye on continuing his career next year at SDSU. He plans to play two years there and then perhaps transfer to San Luis Obispo to finish out his collegiate career. His 3.6 G.P.A will make him attractive to the college recruiters that are sure to take a look at him. And his versatility as a scoring threat out of the defense should turn some heads as well. If the Tigers can succeed in their quest to become CIF champions the additional exposure will only help him as he decides upon where to play next season.