Junior midfielder Emmanuel Perez said he considers himself a competitor in everything he does. And he means everything.
“Anything I do, I want to win so bad,” Perez said, before he went on to talk about a bowling class he took during his sophomore year.
“I would try to beat everyone in the class,” Perez said. “I think I got the second highest total pins knocked down that quarter. So that was pretty cool. But I was still really mad that I didn’t get first.”
The competitive spirit within Perez has translated into results for Men’s Soccer on the field this season.
Perez leads the team in goals scored with nine this season. Four of Perez’s goals were game-winning goals. Perez also has three assists this season.
His goals and assists have contributed to the Mustang’s overall record of 7-8-1 and 3-4 record in Big West action. One goal against both Cal State Fullerton and CSUN on Oct. 20 and Oct. 23, respectively, contributed to the Mustangs’ wins.
These goals also played a role in Cal Poly qualifying to the Big West Conference Tournament that begins Wednesday, Nov. 6 against Cal State Fullerton.
“[Perez] has demonstrated leadership,” head coach Steve Sampson said. “I think he has been one of the hardest working players since I’ve been here, and I think he’s deserving of every single accolade he’s been getting.”
Perez was named the Big West Offensive Player of the Week for the week of Oct. 21. He was the first Men’s Soccer player to earn the honor since alumnus forward Chase Minter in 2015.
Sampson praised Perez’s abilities to time himself and get into position for wide balls, separate himself from defenders and get shots off and score goals.
During a span from Sept. 10 to Sept. 26, Perez scored seven goals in five matches. His seven goals during that span equals the seven goals alumnus forward Sean Goode scored in the entirety of the 2018 season.
While Sampson gave high praise to Perez, the Florida native lauded his teammates for being a contributing factor to their success this year.
“The good thing about our team is that we have a lot of good players,” Perez said. “So if someone is struggling, someone else can step up and keep the level high and that’s one thing that we’ve had on this team that we haven’t had in the past.”
Junior defender Andrew Forth — who Perez considered the teammate he has the most chemistry with on the pitch — praised his teammate and echoed his sentiments about having the most chemistry with him.
“We know what each other’s going to do and each other’s tendencies,” Forth said. “We play well off each other. We talked earlier about speaking and how you can’t speak at the [UC] Santa Barbara game. With me and him, we don’t really have to speak. It’s kind of an unspoken thing. We just do each other’s work for each other and get the job done.”
Forth also described Perez as hardworking as a result of having to be “blue-collar.” Perez’s attitude and competitive demeanor is consistent throughout, from the bowling lanes to the soccer pitch, and is what has driven him to excel this season.
“Even if it’s something small, just always being competitive and wanting to do my best and if you can win to win, it definitely helps me to keep that attitude on the field,” Perez said. “Even when things aren’t going my way or the team’s way, just don’t give up. Don’t stop until the end and try to do your best and hopefully you come out with the win.”