Chris Moya has arguably the best hair, the best nickname and the best shot on the Estancia High boys' soccer team. Coach Robert Castellano doesn't care much for the hair and nickname.
As for the shot, it's special. With the shot comes the other two. Moya tends to run his fingers through his hair after he strikes the ball. Moya then hears teammates on the bench call him "The Beast."
Castellano just shakes his head when he hears anyone refer to a 5-foot-6 and 140-pound sophomore as "The Beast."
"I told him to cut it off," Castellano said of Moya's coif haircut, which reminds Castellano of the kind David Beckham sports.
"I don't know," Moya said when Castellano asked for the name of the hairstyle. "Just mostly my forehead touches [my hair]. It doesn't really get in my way."
Moya and the hairdo stood out last week. Castellano couldn't brush it off. Without Moya, the Eagles don't go as far as they went this season, the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs.
Moya made some hair-raising plays. He delivered the assist on the game-winning goal to upset third-seeded Apple Valley Granite Hills, 2-1, at home in the second round. Two days later, in the quarterfinals at Los Angeles Windward, he recorded three goals in a 5-2 rout.
There wasn't much to complain about on Castellano's end. Estancia made it to the semifinals for the first time in 14 seasons. Having Moya's deadly shot sparked a wild-card team's deep run.
"He can finish and he has that composure that nobody on the team has," Castellano said. "Obviously, he's tiny. He's going to get bigger, faster and stronger. It's going to be fun the next two years. Hopefully no academy snatches him away or anything."
Moya plans to return to Estancia for his junior season. His current one might not be over.
The Eagles (16-6-5) returned to practice on Thursday, two days after they lost at home to Baldwin Park, 2-1, in the semifinals. Castellano said he sent in the paperwork for Estancia to be considered for next week's CIF Southern California Regional Division II tournament. Four Division II teams from the CIF Southern Section will earn berths on Sunday, and Castellano hopes the Eagles get into the eight-team bracket. He admits they are a long shot to make it.
Moya found himself in a similar situation, the odds against him on his own team, before the season. In the summer, when the Eagles won the Foothill League, they pulled it off without much help from Moya.
In practice during the summer, Moya showed his skill set. When it came to the actual matches, it was a different story.
"I don't know if he was nervous, but he didn't play as much as he wanted to in the summer. He didn't play to his potential," Castellano said. "But when we had our first practice [to open the winter season], I definitely saw a difference. Before the season started, he was playing in adult leagues and he was playing a lot of soccer, and it kind of made him a little more aggressive."
Moya unveiled a knack for creating scoring chances. He's very quick, can send precise crosses, and he can blast the ball accurately from 25 yards out.
The play didn't go unnoticed. Moya earned a starting job as a winger. He joined forward Kevin Pizarro and defender Andy Ceja as the only sophomores in the Eagles' lineup. The other two made varsity for the second straight season, and Moya made his debut.
Moya impressed during his freshman season, not for all the right reasons. The most talented player on the frosh-soph team heard from the upstairs coach.
"I did pick on him a lot," said Castellano, who wasn't a fan of Moya's game, adding that it featured too much flair and not enough grit. "I kind of saw a little too much confidence. When I see that, I kind of have to bring him down to earth."
Moya bought into the Eagles' team and defensive concept. He didn't produce beastly-type numbers, but the eight goals and seven assists are more than respectable.
As for the hairdo, Castellano said Moya trimmed it on Friday. Coach is happy, and the player is as well, for playing for someone like Castellano.