NCS Freshman of the Year
JACOB LEPORE, FREEDOM
After winning the 2018 Bay Valley Athletic League title, Freedom High graduated several key players, leaving many holes and question marks for a team looking to establish consistency in the North Coast Section. Enter freshman Jacob Lepore, who followed in the footsteps of last year’s NCS Freshman of the Year, teammate Alberto Padilla.
Lepore made his high school debut as the Falcons struggled through their first five games, failing to pick up a win against elite competition from around the section. But after Freedom blanked Granada in a non-league victory, Lepore found the back of the net for the first time in a loss to eventual NCS Division II champion Montgomery. He scored his second goal of the year two days later, this time in a 2-0 win over Pinole Valley.
“From our first open field session before tryouts, Jacob stood out from everyone else,” said Freedom coach Sal Acevedo. “He caught my attention not just because of his advanced skills for a freshman, but also for his discipline, character and great attitude.”
The Falcons suffered another rough stretch out of league play after the win over Pinole Valley, dropping three straight. That was when Lepore began to assert himself as a scorer, each and every time he set foot on the pitch. Freedom won four straight to open BVAL, with the freshman attacker scoring in three of those games. He found the back of the net again in a loss to Heritage, and started the second time through league play with another goal in a win over Deer Valley.
At the end of January came Lepore’s finest moment. While facing Antioch, and league MVP Ian Scheringer, the Falcons needed every bit of scoring that Lepore could provide. Scheringer got the Panthers on the board twice, but it was not enough when the Freedom phenom notched the first hat trick of his high school career.
“His ability to read the game is very impressive, and he has a very high soccer IQ,” Acevedo added. “Because he is so skilled on the ball, his vision and awareness combine to create in him a very special talent that exceeds expectations for a young player on the varsity.”
Lepore not only succeeded on an individual level, but took his team to greater heights than anyone predicted before the season. A young team was transformed into a repeat league champion, as Lepore led the team with 11 goals scored, combining with the sophomore Padilla to account for nearly half of all goals scored during the season. He was also voted the team’s Most Valuable Player and recognized as a first-team All-BVAL selection. Acevedo expects even more next season.
“Jacob has a tireless work ethic, he trains and plays with so much passion and his eagerness to become better is apparent,” the head coach stated. “He is already becoming a leader on this team, and I am so excited for his future, as he can become a force in soccer at a higher level.”
For his efforts throughout this season, we are pleased to recognize Jacob Lepore as the Prep2Prep North Coast Section Freshman of the Year.
Other players considered include Marin Academy’s Aiden Aley and Antioch’s Avelardo Florentino.
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 NCS soccer.