Coach Ignacio Cid saw something in Jack Percival that the previous man in charge of the Sage Hill School boys' soccer team did not.
Cid, in his first season with the Lightning, moved the junior from defense to offense. Cid explains why.
"He's a really talented player, a lot of speed as you can see," Cid said. "He does well with the ball at his feet."
Percival showed he could strike the ball into the back of the net as well.
In a must-win situation last week at Brethren Christian, the striker produced in the final Academy League match. Percival scored three goals and assisted on another in a 5-1 victory, helping Sage Hill clinch a berth into the CIF Southern Section VI playoffs.
The Lightning finished in third place in league, one point ahead of Oxford Academy. The playoff opener was set for Wednesday, but to Percival it felt like the postseason began last week in the regular-season finale.
"It was basically the start of our playoffs," Percival said. "We had to win to get in."
Sage Hill (9-6-3, 5-3-2 in league) had to keep winning to stay alive in the playoffs.
Percival tried to get the Lightning past Citrus Hill of Perris in a wild-card match at home. He recorded the match's first goal, coming in the 21st minute.
Sage Hill was unable to hold onto the lead and fell, 2-1. Citrus Hill punched its ticket to the first round by scoring a goal in the 78th minute. It was a devastating way for Percival and his teammates to go out in the postseason.
They expected to make a run, just like in the past two seasons, when the Lightning reached the quarterfinals under Coach Noureddine El Alam.
"For sure," said Percival of his disappointment. "I thought we were going to go farther."
Percival will get another chance next season.
The road back to the playoffs might be more difficult. Sage Hill loses five seniors, including standouts Taylor Ross and Colton Gyulay.
Percival said he learned quite a bit from Ross and Gyulay.
Ross fired up the team, sometimes having to knock a teammate or two off their feet during practice. Ross' message was clear, no one can afford to fool around.
"He's a football player," Percival said of Ross. "A few times [Ross hit me]."
Percival said Gyulay was the one who brought the team together. The player next in line to lead the Lightning might be Percival.
"I'll try," Percival said.
Hometown: Newport Coast
Born: May 24, 1994
Weight: 150 pounds
Sport: Boys' soccer
Coach: Ignacio Cid
Favorite food: Spaghetti carbonara
Favorite movie: "Toy Story 3"
Favorite athletic moment: "When I scored the tying goal against Oxford [Academy] like with three minutes to go in overtime."
Week in review: Percival scored three goals and assisted on another to lead the Lightning to a 5-1 victory at Brethren Christian, clinching third place in the Academy League and a berth into the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs.