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THE TIMES 1998 WINTER ALL-COUNTY TEAMS

Serna Finally Breaks Loose and Achieves a Few Goals

Athlete of the year: Saddleback forward scores a school-record 45 goals and leads team to Golden West title.

March 25, 1998|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Saddleback Coach Mel Silva knew his quiet, explosive forward Tomas Serna had a big goal-scoring season in him. He was just a little off on his timing.

"I actually thought last year would be his breakout season," Silva said. "He had scored 20 goals as a sophomore and all indications were that he would improve greatly on that."

But Serna's junior year was cursed almost from the start. He broke his collarbone in a scrimmage and missed six weeks. He never returned to full strength, scoring only 10 goals.

"He was afraid to let loose," Silva said. "He was holding back because of the injury."

But nothing could hold Serna back this season. In his second game against Santiago, he scored five goals. He never stopped scoring all season. Serna demolished the school-scoring record with 45 goals and was selected The Times Orange County boys' soccer player of the year.

"Once I had that game against Santiago, I started looking forward," said Serna, who also had 14 assists.

Serna had three goals in mind for his senior season: score 40 goals, win the Golden West League championship, and win the Southern Section Division I title.

He accomplished the first two, but falling short of the third left a bitter taste in his mouth. The top-seeded Roadrunners were upset by Long Beach Millikan in the second round of the playoffs on penalty kicks. Serna had many opportunities to score in the two 20-minute overtime period, but he kept coming away frustrated.

Afterward, Serna called the game "unforgettable."

Silva said the same could be said about Serna's season.

"Everything that went wrong last year went right for Tomas this year," Silva said. "It was fun watching him. On the bench, it seemed like everyone would wait for Tomas to come up with something. He usually did.

"He was usually double- and sometimes triple-teamed. But Tomas had a knack for being in the right place. And if he wasn't scoring, he was giving his teammates the chance."

Serna, who has yet to achieve a qualifying score on the SAT to play as a college freshman, said he is hoping to take his considerable skills to UC Irvine this fall.

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