By John Philip Wyllie
Having lost eight starters from last year’s team to graduation coach Mike Diaz knew that this would be a rebuilding year for his Otay Ranch Lady Mustang Soccer Team. Looking to the future, Diaz filled those slots with eight freshman. So, in one year the Mustangs have gone from being one of the oldest teams in the league to the youngest. At the center of his rebuilding effort is a crafty freshman midfielder named Bianca Saenz.
“Bianca is one of our captains and she is a step ahead of the other freshman in terms of maturity. She has been learning since the first day she arrived here and she has improved greatly,” Diaz said.
The Mustangs struggled initially against the senior laden powerful teams from the North County, but they are a promising 2-2 so far in league and they are improving each time they take the field.
“We started off losing, but now that we are getting to the middle of the season and we are doing better. I think playing that tough competition has helped make us better,” Saenz said.
She has adjusted well to her increased responsibilities as a team captain.
“Half the players on the team are freshman so I guess coach Diaz wanted a freshman player to help the other freshman. At first, the older players thought it was a joke (having a freshman captain). Now they can see that we can play so they respect us.”
Ask Diaz what is special about Saenz and he will tell you it is her vision. Like a chess master, Saenz surveys the field and is able to anticipate what will happen three passes into the future. She knows just when to switch the ball for maximum advantage. Saenz is also very supportive of her teammates and is able to get them fired up to play.
“It is rare to have a freshman come in and read the game that well,” Diaz said. “She also has a great first touch and she is very skillful with the ball. She can drive it and shoot it too. You could say that she has all the (abilities and skills) that a coach likes. Plus she learns quickly and can take and give orders. At this point, she is unpolished, but she is going to be a really outstanding player for this program.”