RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA — Santa Margarita Coach Curt Bauer had heard from his team that the new kid from Texas was a pretty good player. But Bauer also knew how kids talk so he waited until Brian Piesner practiced before he gave his approval.
Minutes later, Bauer was convinced his players knew what they were talking about.
"You don't have to look too long before you notice that kid's a player," Bauer said. "One thing you can't teach someone is how to score and you can see right away that he's had that ability all along. He's a complete package, a flamboyant type player that just jumps out at you."
Piesner jumped out at the county almost immediately--scoring 15 goals and handing out 17 assists in his initial season at Santa Margarita. He was named first team All-Sea View League, All-Southern Section and second team Times All-County.
Now that his scoring partner Seth George--a two-time Times All-County selection--has gone to UCLA, Piesner figures to get even more attention.
"This year he's going to turn a lot more heads," said Chon Kantikovit, Piesner's teammate. "There's still a lot of people who don't know how good he is. He's so quick with the ball, it's amazing to watch."
Bauer is one who often watches Piesner with amazement.
"He's fun to watch," Bauer said. "He's the kind of player that when he gets the ball, people stop to watch."
Piesner realizes people weren't watching for him last year. They were more concerned with stopping George than stopping some left-footed Texan they knew nothing about.
"There might be more pressure on me this year," Piesner said. "People will be marking more up on me now that Seth is gone."
But Bauer said defenders will be making a big mistake if they mark Piesner too closely.
"You can cover him for a while, but not the whole game," Bauer said. "He never stops moving and sooner or later he's going to get free. You don't want to mark real tight either, because he likes that. He wants you to bump him. He wants to feel where you are so he can go the other way."
Piesner said he has never minded a bump here or there.
"That's one of the things I do well, play under pressure," he said.
When he was 14, Piesner and his family moved from Long Island to Spring, Tex., which is outside of Houston. After two years of starring on one of the nation's top club soccer teams, Piesner was looking for a new team when his father's business brought him to Southern California.
"We looked around at all the schools and we decided Santa Margarita had the kind of school and soccer program we were looking for," Piesner said in his mild Long Island accent.
Kantikovit said he didn't know what to make of Piesner at first.
"Here was this Texan kid with a shaved head on the side, kind of goofy looking," he said. "He started out playing my position--midfield--and I liked him even less. But then they switched him to forward and you could see he was going to fit in. You watch him play and you can tell he's been playing the sport his whole life."
But Kantikovit said soccer is not Piesner's only love.
"You go over to his house and he's playing pool," Kantikovit said. "He also plays basketball, volleyball, tennis and golf. And he's one of those guys that's good in everything he plays. I asked him once, 'Is there anything you don't play?' "
This year, Piesner's focus is on winning the Sea View League and going beyond the second round of the Division III playoffs, last season's stopping point for the Eagles.
Piesner said there are no individual goals. Even if he is expecting to surpass last year's total of 15 goals, Piesner said it won't happen on purpose.
"I'm not going to change the way I play," he said. "With Chon and Matt [Moses], I don't think they'll have problems finishing it off if I pass it to them."
Kantikovit said he quickly learned to look for the pass when Piesner has the ball.
"Personally, I think he'd rather pass it off than shoot the ball," Kantikovit said. "He reads the games really well as a forward. He just seems to know what the defender is going to do and know to do the exact opposite."
If defenders are looking for Piesner to go left this year, they'd better think again.
"I think I snuck on people last year because I was left-footed," he said. "So I worked on going to my right this summer. Now, when they think I'm going left, I'll give them something else to worry about."
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Boys' Soccer at a Glance