CCS Junior of the Year
ELLIS BRENNEMAN, SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL
After cutting its teeth in the rugged West Catholic Athletic League, Sacred Heart Cathedral once again found its stride in the post-season, this time under first-year coach Mike McNeill. McNeill’s leadership and the outstanding play of junior attacker Ellis Brenneman propelled the Fightin’ Irish to another Central Coast Section title and a berth in the CIF NorCal playoffs.
“We had a tough start to the season, the results weren’t going our way, and our play was breaking down in the attack," McNeill said. “One of our main moves was to bring Ellis in from the wing and play him centrally. The impact was immediate.”
Indeed, after a slow 1-2-1 start in league play, the Irish strung together back-to-back wins over Serra and Mitty, and then again over Valley Christian and Riordan. The 4-2 win over Valley Christian, with Brenneman leading the attack, was a drastic turnaround from an earlier 5-1 loss to the Warriors.
“All of a sudden, we were able to link play and build through the middle of the field,” McNeill added. “His range of passing, awareness on the field and work rate defensively was a huge factor in our successful season.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral went unbeaten in its three matches of the regular season, and then turned it on in the CCS Division II playoffs. A phenomenal defensive effort neutralized Soquel’s typically potent attack during a 1-0 victory and the defense shined again in a 2-0 win over Pioneer. Against Wilcox in the section championship game, SHC clicked on all cylinders, winning 3-1, as Brenneman showcased his skills offensively and defensively.
The Fightin’ Irish were not done there either, as they blanked Bishop O’Dowd and Amador Valley to reach the CIF NorCal Division III final, before falling to Madera South. 10 of the 20 players on this year’s team do graduate this spring, but with Brenneman returning, McNeill has an awfully big piece to build around, as he was recognized with a first-team All-WCAL selection this season.
“Ellis has been an incredible leader on the field. He leads by example and his work rate is never questioned,” McNeill said. “He is the player who I want on the field all game, every game.”
For his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Ellis Brenneman as the Prep2Prep Central Coast Section Junior of the Year.
Other players considered include Santa Teresa’s Brandon Alper, Willow Glen’s Dino Kuljancic, Watsonville’s Eric Vazquez, Burlingame’s Andrew Morales, Prospect’s Dane Pendleton and Branham’s Jaeson Gonzalez.
NOTE: We would like to thank our media partners, coaches, parents, players and fans for contributing photos for our all-section features.
We salute all of the players that have made this a wonderful season of CCS soccer.