Soccer St. Anthony

Girls’ Soccer Preview: St. Anthony Saints

The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.

The562’s soccer coverage for the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Beach Futbol Club.

After a difficult season that saw the St. Anthony girls’ soccer team finish 4-11 overall and winless in the Camino Real League, the Saints administration knew they needed a change of pace for their program. Players had quit or burned out, and the team needed an injection of youth and energy–and that’s exactly what they got when they hired Rina Perez.

Perez, a 2016 Poly grad who played collegiately, brought Poly teammate and Long Beach State alum Sarah Pilster with her to Clark Field to help rebuild a Saints program with a proud history that includes recent CIF-SS success.

“I’m so happy, my major was coaching and this is what I want to be doing,” said Perez. “Having this opportunity open up for me, it was perfect, and I went for it. The interview went great, they hired me on the spot.”

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Perez had been coaching at Poly, both as a head coach of the lower levels and as a varsity assistant for her father. The transition to St. Anthony went smoothly, and Perez said she was pleased to find five players with club experience already on the roster.

“The squad is awesome, we started getting going over the summer and a lot of the girls were appreciative of us bringing a different style,” said Perez. “One of our captains told us her confidence was back and that she was falling in love with the sport again--that means more to us right now as a program than anything.”

The Saints’ forwards this year will be senior captain Riley Gose, talented freshman Jaelyn Moreno at center forward, and freshman Olivia Davila. The midfielders will be sophomore Isabella Cruz, a veteran club player, Ava Butardo, and Savana Soares. Holding down the back line are Miranda Cassidy, Alexia Padilla, and outside backs Amaya De Santos and Aubrey Meza.

The Saints’ keeper is Olivia Zawalick, a three-sport star who is also a standout volleyball and softball player.

The Saints will play some Moore League competition including Cabrillo (Nov. 16) and Lakewood (Dec. 13) before opening Camino Real League play. The Saints are in an easier league this year, no longer forced to play against top privates like St. Joseph and Bishop Amat. They’ll contend with St. Genevieve, Mary Star, Pomona Catholic, and Ramona Convent in league play this year. 

For Perez and her young Saints roster which features just a few seniors, this year isn’t about wins and losses, it’s about restarting the Saints’ program in the right way.

“This season for me is really about building a program together, making sure the kids are happy and comfortable together and having a better experience,” said perez. “That’s more important to me than winning right now--if we can work hard and have fun we’ll get the results we want.”

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.