Northeast goalie Gimeno seeks another crown

Sebastian Gimeno is an excellent senior goalie. But sometimes his teammates are so good, he doesn’t even need to play.

Sebastian Gimeno helped the Vikings win the Public League championship a year ago. PHOTO: SEBASTIAN GIMENO

Sebastian Gimeno loves a good challenge.

But there are many times he’ll play an entire game without being tested.

Gimeno is a senior goalie on the Northeast High School soccer team and because his teammates have had so much success this year in Public League play, there are games where he’ll go a long stretch without being called on to make a play.

When he is tested, he always rises to the occasion.

“My teammates play so well in front of me, they definitely help me,” said Gimeno, who is in his second year as the Vikings’ starting goalie. “It’s good, but there are times I would love to play. It’s why we play such a tough nonleague schedule. In those games, I’m able to stay sharper because I’m seeing a lot of shots.”

Gimeno might not see a lot of shots during Public League play, but he’s certainly seeing a lot of wins. The Vikings are 8–0 in league play and are the three-time defending Public League champions.

They also have won four of the past five championships and have been in the finals every year since 2010.

If that trend continues, and it’s quite possible with the way the Vikings are dominating Public League foes, Northeast will have some big games in the future. And the goalie is more than ready.

“I love the pressure, it’s something that makes me play better,” Gimeno said. “I’m used to playing with it now, especially in big games. We play a lot of good teams during the preseason to get ready for it.

“There are talented teams in the Public League. We just beat Franklin Towne Charter, and they’re a good team. But there are some games you don’t get tested, but in games I do, I think I play better. The pressure keeps me focused and when you beat a good team, it’s such a great feeling.”

Gimeno hopes the ambitious schedule will pay off in the playoffs.

This year, the Vikings squared off against La Salle and Archbishop Ryan, and both games were one-goal losses. On the surface, that might look disappointing, but the way Gimeno sees it, those losses were exactly what was needed. They were teaching points for the younger players, and more importantly, it showed everybody that the Vikings aren’t that far away from potentially winning their second city championship in three years.

“I think losing those games will help us,” Gimeno said. “We’re trying to show people we’re a good team, not a good Public League team. I think we’re getting to that point. It’s why we play so many tough games.”

Thus far, when Gimeno has been called upon, he’s risen to the occasion. But he’s quick to point out he had a lot of help in those games.

The first people Gimeno credits for his success are the defenders in front of him. He also believes fellow captains Francisco Correia and Alejandro Giraldo have proven to be not only great players, but also great leaders and friends.

“We’re having so much fun because we’re winning together,” said Gimeno, who was born in Argentina and came to the United States when he was 1 year old. “I grew up with Frankie, and we are like brothers.

“I wouldn’t be able to do it alone if it wasn’t for them pushing me.”

Next year, Gimeno hopes he can push himself to play college soccer, but he’s far more concerned about getting into school. He wants to major in business and if he can’t fit soccer into his schedule, he’s prepared to take a break.

“I really want to be able to go to college and I don’t want to have to ask my parents for help,” Gimeno said. “My parents own their own business, and I hate asking them for money because I know how hard they work. They’re always there to help me, but I don’t want it. I want to go to college and if I can’t play soccer because I’ll be working, I’ll miss it, but I have to take care of the other things first.”

Gimeno is no stranger to hard work.

He is a team leader at Sky Zone Philadelphia, where he does whatever the place needs during his shift, and he recently landed a job as a valet parking attendant. Driving expensive cars could be nerve wracking for some, but a goalie is always ready for pressure situations.

“There’s more pressure stopping a shot, but I love doing it,” Gimeno said. “Especially penalty kicks. That’s all about focus and trying to outthink your opponent. I love those situations.”

Gimeno remembers his sophomore year, when the Vikings upset La Salle, and he sees a lot of similarities between that team and this year’s squad. He hopes they have even more in common when the season ends.

“This is the best team I’ve ever been on because of the chemistry we have,” Gimeno said. “We are all going for the same thing. We’re having fun. We play together, and this is a team that could win the Public League and city title.

“It’s mostly because of our coaches. We have three very good coaches who are so passionate about it. They do so much for us. We’re just trying to do what they say because they know how to win. They’ve done it before.” ••