By John Philip Wyllie
With nearly everyone returning from last year’s competitive 9-7-1 team the Eastlake Titans are confident that they can edge perennial league champion Bonita Vista out of a Mesa League soccer crown this season and advance deeply into the CIF tournament. A lot of that confidence stems from the dominant play of their talented center midfielder, Alexis Barbara.
“Alexis has been somewhat overlooked because she plays on the Coronado Premier Team instead of (one of the more high-profile club teams like the) Surf or the Nomads. But I think that she is just as good as any player in the county. She can dish the ball, she can score, she has a lot of speed and she is a strong overall player. Alexis has matured a lot and she is our leader this season,” said Titan head coach, Martin Casas.
Barbara is no stranger to the soccer field. Following in her big brother’s footsteps she began playing AYSO soccer at the age of five. From there she moved up to the tougher competition offered by traveling teams. Staying with it and improving steadily with each passing year she has developed into one of the area’s premier players. Barbara takes her role as the team leader and primary playmaker seriously.
“I do a lot of building and creating balls for people to run off of. My role is that of a playmaker. Everyone depends on me to be on my game. You can’t mess up in the middle. You have the responsibility to set everyone up and see the things that no one else sees.”
In addition to having great technical and tactical skills playing the center midfield position requires tremendous endurance. Stamina has never been a problem for Barbara.
“I do a lot of running on my own and when it is raining I go to the gym. You always have to stay in shape to keep on top of everyone else,” she said.
Barbara is the type of player that could probably be effective just about anywhere, but she is used primarily as a central midfielder, but occasionally as a striker. That versatility may come in handy next year when she embarks on her collegiate career.
“I think I will end up playing either at Cal-State Northridge or Fullerton. I have also applied to San Diego State, but I haven’t heard anything back from their coach yet.”
Barbara is fired up about the team she is currently on and its chances of claiming a Mesa League title. While they have struggled to a 5-7-1 record in the early going they have played a steady diet of county Top-10 teams. That tough scheduling is by design. Casas feels that the best way to improve is by playing tough competition and the Titans have certainly done that. How they will do against archrival Bonita Vista High remains to be seen.