Last Piece of the Puzzle

Last+Piece+of+the+Puzzle

After playing with Academy for four years, Vivar takes his
senior year soccer career back to Westview.

It all happened in a heartbeat.

Alex Vivar (12) remembers receiving the ball from his teammate, flicking it over a Rancho Bernardo defender, and then slotting the ball through another defender’s legs and past the goalkeeper to score his first ever varsity goal, Jan. 18.

He had consolidated the team’s unbeaten streak to start the league season, extending the team’s lead over the Broncos to two, with just a few touches of the ball.

“Scoring my first varsity goal felt really good,” Vivar said. “Everyone was thrilled, especially coach Coughlin, because we were pretty much guaranteed the win at that point.”

Throughout his first three years of high school, Vivar went through the same routine as every other soccer player: after class ends, he goes to the field, puts on his cleats, and starts playing.

The difference, however, was that during those years, he commuted to Irvine every day to play for his academy-level team. Academy, the highest level a youth player can reach, was Vivar’s home from eighth grade through his junior year. Unlike club, the academy season spans the entire year, meaning that one can’t play academy and high school at the same time. His senior year, however, Vivar left the comfort of the team he’d played with for years, and decided to try out for the school’s varsity team.

“I was ready to experience the camaraderie of high school and just feel the pride of representing your school, which isn’t something that comes around very often in your lifetime,” Vivar said. “When it does, you want to take advantage of it, so I had to have one last ride during my senior year.”

Immediately after joining the team, Vivar noticed stark differences between the playing style and environments of academy teams and high school teams.

“High school [soccer] is more direct, with more one-on-one opportunities,” he said. “I’d say it’s a lot more aggressive as well. I never remembered getting into as many physical battles [in academy] as I have in high school. Now I have to rely on my skill even more and be quicker in getting out of tight situations.”

Vivar’s role on the field is often that of a playmaker, dictating play in the middle of the field. Normally, Vivar said he plays as an attacking midfielder, but if the situation calls for it, he’ll drop down and play defensively. As an attacking

midfielder, but if the situation calls for it, he’ll drop down and play defensively. As an attacking midfielder, Vivar has a lot of freedom on the pitch to perform his creative duties.

“We have a really complete team already,” he said.” “We have two center-backs that are really good, [our goalkeeper] Jose Guadarrama (12) is very good, we have Izel Smith (11) up top with the speed, we have Liam Felicelli (12), but I feel like I’m another piece of Westview’s puzzle that could really help us to go to the next level.”

With his influence largely being behind the striker in the middle of the field, Vivar focuses his effort on creating plays and opportunities for his teammates higher up on the pitch.

“Especially when the game’s tied I try to keep control of the ball, not give up possession, and specifically create goal-scoring opportunities,” Vivar said. “My role results in me playing a lot balls from behind to our center forwards, giving assists, winning corner kicks and also hopefully scoring a few goals myself.”

Off the field, Vivar said he noticed that the high school experience was much different from academy as well. He said that the more physical play style forced him to adapt and change the way he approaches situations on the field.

“With the high school experience, there’s a lot more pride involved when you’re representing your school,” he said. “In academy it’s focused more on the club and getting exposed to scouts, but [in high school] you’re just trying to win as a collective group and have a good time.”

In addition to adapting to a new playing style, Vivar’s transition to high school soccer was further complicated by his ankle injury at the onset of the season. Because he injured his ankle in an academy game the day before high school practices began, he missed the first month of the season, missing out on time to build chemistry with the team.

“When you’re a part of the team you want to be a part of all the games as well, and to miss almost half the season was really hard,” Vivar said. “After being out, I really want to get back into things and improve specifically on the defensive side of my game because there’s a lot of bigger players in high school who don’t shy away from rough challenges.”

In addition to his actual play on the field, Vivar said he hopes to make the most of his time representing Westview with his new teammates.

“I try to enjoy every game and every practice, and to soak in every single moment,” he said. “The off-the-field camaraderie is one-of-a-kind, and I really want to leave my mark on Westview’s team.”

Since recovering, Vivar’s played in four games, with the team winning two and losing two, but still maintaining their winning league record. Playing in Division II this year rather than Division I, Vivar feels like they can win the league championship this season and even make an attempt at the CIF title.

“We’re definitely thrilled because [Westview] hasn’t had a start like this in a long time and there’s a real sense of belief going on like ‘hey, we can really do it this season,’” he said. “We’re in a position to win, we have the squad, we luckily don’t have any injuries right now so there is just a lot of hope a lot of optimism going into the rest of the season.”

The players specifically hope to go undefeated at their own stadium and focus on defense. Vivar said that the team hope to keep a “watertight defense,” much like the 2016 team that almost won the league and scored few goals, but conceded rarely.

“During the nice run the team had a few years ago, their record makes it sound like they were smacking teams,” Vivar said. “In reality, they won 0-1, 0-2, keeping the shut-outs.”

During the game against the Broncos on Thursday, Vivar’s father was informed that KUSI News would be showing the goal on their report that very night.

“It was pretty cool to be able to score a goal that [KUSI] called ‘one of the best goals of the season,’ and hopefully there’s more to come,” he said.

After scoring, Vivar said he felt elated. Teammates congratulated him, a few hugged him, and one even lifted him in the air. In that moment, he felt that after four years, he was finally a part of Westview Soccer.