ATHLETE OF THE WEEK : Vargas Inspired by Return to Stomping Grounds

City Section administrators who chose Westchester High as a site for last Friday's championship soccer match between Reseda and San Pedro probably thought they were picking a neutral site.

They could not have been more wrong.

Reseda's Paul Vargas also played on the school's football team, which lost to Westchester, 21-13, in the City 2-A Division championship game.

"It freaked me out when I found out we were playing there," Vargas said. "I was really pumped up for the game, and just the fact that we were playing at Westchester just pumped me up more for the game.

"I figured that when we showed up there would be a bunch of signs and stuff, getting on Reseda, but there weren't any there."

With the added motivation, Vargas played what he calls his best game of the year in Reseda's 3-1 victory.

Quite a statement considering he scored five goals against San Fernando in a match earlier in the season.

He played a role in all of Reseda's goals with one goal and two assists. The victory was Vargas' second of the year at Westchester; the Reseda football team beat the Comets, 10-0, in a regular-season meeting there.

"I'm beginning to like playing there," Vargas said. "I'd like to start playing some more games there."

Vargas scored 6 1/2 minutes into the game on a lob that went over Westchester goalie Kip Bennett's head to give Reseda a 2-0 lead.

A minute earlier, Eyal Rapaport had scored on the senior's assist.

With less than 13 minutes left in the first half, Vargas registered his second assist when John Bellows scored on a booming kick from 15 yards out, giving Reseda a three-goal lead.

In their 3-2 semifinal win against Monroe, the Regents also jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.

"It's funny; it seems we're always getting ahead, 3-0," Vargas said. "I don't know what it is. I guess we get real fired up for games, come out and blitz."

Vargas is a transfer from Westlake High, where he played on the junior varsity soccer team. At Westlake, his parents would not let him play football, fearing injuries.

Their fears turned out to be well-founded: This season Vargas was the backup kicker until an injury forced him to quit.

"After the football game was one of the worse feelings I've ever had," Vargas said. "I didn't want to end the year with no honors, no trophies or anything, so as soon as football season ended, I put my mind on winning the City championship in soccer."

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