It's an average afternoon on the vast and wide-open plains of your local high soccer pitch. The sun is out. The ball is rolling. And the game, in its pendulum-esque nature, has given into a flow where the teams play that hunter-then-hunted chess match in hopes of scoring a goal.
All seems calm on the surface. Normal. You relax.
And that is exactly what Sacred Heart Prep's Andrew Segre, one of the season's most opportunistic predators, was waiting for.
You blinked. Now he's behind your defense. And he's about to eat up your goalkeeper.
There is something almost perfect about what Sacred Heart Prep head soccer coach Armando Del Rio calls Segre's "predatory ability." The junior is one of the most unassuming young men you'll ever talk to. Even as a deadly striker, when talking soccer you don't get the sense Segre is capable of eating entire defenses alive with his speed, strength and skill.
But many a time, the opposition made the mistake of assuming there wasn't a lurking hunter plotting out his next move, his next run -- like all great predators, Segre arrived on the soccer field quietly starving.
"Every time we played, he sparked fear in the other team," Del Rio said. "He was such a vertical threat with his speed. Other teams couldn't handle him. Every time he stepped on the field, you had this feeling that he had the opportunity to do something special."
Ah yes, when you're a striker, there is nothing tastier than a goal. It's the perfect culmination of effort, patience and opportunity. The more goals, the merrier.
But what made Segre special this season wasn't the frequency of his goals. Segre is the San Mateo Daily Journal Boys' Soccer Player of the Year because no one came up with bigger goals in bigger games. It was the quality of Segre's goals that made his season memorable. You see, it's one thing to know that you're the biggest, baddest, fastest and strongest alpha male on the soccer field and it's an entirely different one to still come up huge when entire soccer defenses are trying to stop you.
"He's a pure goal scorer. He didn't score as many goals, but the goals he scored came in one-goal type of games," Del Rio said. "It was either the equalizing goal or the game-winner. He was definitely a difference-maker."
Segre assures his affinity for the big goal has very little to do with his skill set and a heightened level of intensity and more about being at the right place at the right time.
But given the frequency of those types of goals, maybe the hunter is trying to pull a fast one on all of us?
Against Menlo School in a game with serious West Bay Athletic League implications, Segre scored the lone goal.
He'd repeat the feat in another huge contest against Eastside College Prep.
In the Central Coast Section playoffs against the defending Division II champion San Mateo Bearcats, Segre scored a fantastic insurance goal that locked up a spot in the semifinals.
Then in the CCS championship game, once against rival Menlo, Segre notched the Gators' lone goal -- it was one that helped SHP earn a share of the Division III crown.
In all, Segre tracked and trapped his prey 16 times and assisted on five other hunts. His speed has always been a part of his game but, in 2012-13, Segre dedicated himself to the finesse part of his skill set.
"It seems like it really paid off," Segre said.
But true to his off-the-field persona, Del Rio said Segre fits the bill of soccer predator to the T -- mostly because his free-spirited and loose personality segue perfectly onto the soccer field. It's not necessarily a mindset typical of goal scorers the likes of Segre and perhaps that's what made him so darn deadly.
"He has a humble confidence that keeps him loose," Del Rio said. "He's free spirited and I think that helps his game. If he misses a shot or a chance at goal, it doesn't affect him. But, as his confidence started to grow and you watched him play more, you could see he had the potential to be a very dangerous player."
And on the wide, vast open spaces of the soccer pitch, there were none more dangerous than Segre this year.