BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston sophomore goalkeeper Andre Perez-Santalla has been named the Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week for his standout performance in the goal, which included stopping 22 of 23 shots against Scotch Plains-Fanwood, who at the time was the state of New Jersey's top ranked boys' soccer team. Although the Highlanders lost the game to Scotch Plains 1-0, Perez-Santalla made four spectacular saves in a three minute span which kept the game scoreless until SPF finally knocked a goal by him in the 74th minute of the contest.
SPF coach Breznitsky attributed GL's stunner to Perez Santalla's performance. “We had twenty-some shots, their goalkeeper made some unbelievable saves," said Breznitsky.
Perez –Santalla, who came into the season with no varsity experience, has been instrumental in leading the Highlanders (8-7) to a winning 2016 season thus far as they prepare to enter the state tournament.
Coach Bruno Somma saw promise in Perez-Santalla, but admits, he needed to get experience to compete at the varsity level. "Andre was shaky early in the season, you could see that he was unsure of himself and was struggling with decision making," said Somma. "He has improved 100-percent since the first game and growing with confidence."
"Going into the season I knew that the goalie position was an issue," said Somma. After a few games, he was reassured that he made the right choice in Perez-Santalla.
In addition to his outstanding play against SPF, Perez- Santalla was equally impressive in a win over Johnson and a tough 1-0 Union County Tournament loss to New Providence. He has posted six shutouts this season and has started all 15 games as the Highlander goalkeeper.
Andre is a 'yes coach' kid who is invested in making himself into a solid goalie, said Somma. "I tell him that he does not have to be spectacular -- just make routine saves -- and this settles him down," he said. His leadership will grow as his game continues to improve, said Somma.
Below are comments from Andre regarding his past, present and future:
TAPinto: When did you start playing soccer and when did you know you wanted to concentrate on being a goalie?
Andre: I started playing soccer at a very young age but began competitive play at age 11. I chose to play as a goalie when I began playing competitively.
TAPinto: What special training do you need to be goalie?
Andre: To be a goalie you need to constantly work on reaction time, footwork, distribution, handling and communication. Improving these parts of my game is crucial if I want to play to the best of my ability
TAPinto: What does it mean to see the success of the soccer team this year?
Andre: It is great playing towards a winning season for Coach Somma.
TAPinto: Do you have personal and team goals?
Andre: My team goal that I have is to be conference and sectional champions. My personal goals are to continue to deliver my best when I am needed.
TAPinto: Have you had a favorite soccer moment at GL?
Andre: My favorite moment was definitely getting my first career start and clean sheet against Summit to kick off the season.
TAPinto: Do you play for a club team? If so, how has that helped you prepare for varsity soccer?
Andre: I play for Somerset County FC where my head coach Jon Sarles always pushes me to strive for greatness. I am also in the pool for the New Jersey Olympic Development Program which challenged me a lot. Playing a year up at a competitive level has allowed me to adjust to the speed of the game and power of most players’ shots.
TAPinto: What do you like most about GL?
Andre: The teachers are friendly and always looking to help when you are struggling. I also enjoy the cafeteria where I can buy an assortment of snacks.
Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Delicious Heights, a family restaurant with three locations; Berkeley Heights, Bedminster and Basking Ridge, where it is part of the Basking Ridge County Club operating a public restaurant with outdoor dining, and acting as the banquet caterer, boasting a facility with panoramic views of the sprawling golf course. Visit our website, www.deliciousheights.com for weekly specials including Happy Hour specials from 3-6pm and daily featured dinner and lunch specials. Delicious Heights....where our only limitations are yours!
Delicious Heights is located at 428 Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights. 908.464.3287; 285 Main Street in Bedminster. 908.234.1596; 185 Madisonville Road in Basking Ridge. 908.766.9499.