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Perez has taken his game to the next level – Brick Township Bulletin
July 8, 2005

Perez has taken his game to the next level

Staff Writer

Brick Township Bulletin
Published July 8, 2005

Andrew Perez knows scoring is a little tougher on the college level at LaSalle, and with the Jersey Shore Boca in summer league play, but he still has found ways to get the ball into the back of the net.

“It’s definitely a lot harder than high school, especially being a smaller player [at 5 feet, 6 inches] going against some big defenders,” said the former Brick Memorial star. “It’s all about strategy. I learned a lot.”

And Perez put his college “education” to good use as he made the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team and got a Rookie of the Week award. Scoring five goals and assisting on two others, Perez had the second highest number of points on the team.

Perez was one of two players named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team from LaSalle, which enjoyed its best season last fall at 10-8 since the 1997 season and made the conference playoffs for the first time since that season by finishing in sixth place, the final spot. LaSalle lost its conference tournament opener to Temple, 1-0.

“The thing is, against bigger players, you can’t play balls in the air,” said Perez. “You have to play with better quickness and move it faster on the ground. It’s mind games.”

LaSalle got some satisfaction against Temple in an abbreviated spring season when it scored a 3-1 victory. LaSalle also beat Army, 3-1, and St. Joseph’s, 2-0, in going 3-1-1 in the spring. But there was not much of a break after that for Perez, who has been one of the top scorers on Boca’s under-20 team, and scored two goals in a recent outing.

“I’ve had a nose for the goal, which I was known for in high school,” said Perez, who sparked Brick Memorial to the NJSIAA Central Jersey championship two seasons ago. “It’s tough now, especially on those hot scorching days, but as long as I’m playing.”

But things didn’t come easily for him at LaSalle, where he had to prove himself all over again and earn his minutes.

“I didn’t go right in there and have a spot,” he said. “I had to work hard and get my turn by practicing well. And when I got in, I made things happen.”

Perez got his chance in the second week of the season, scoring a goal in the first half and also getting an assist in his first start against St. Bonaventure, a 2-1 LaSalle victory. He remembers his first college goal well.

“There was a cross from the 18, and my defender went for the header and it went over his head, so I ran onto it and volleyed it lefty into the corner,” said Perez.

He scored goals against Richmond and George Washington to earn the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week award. His other two goals came in a 4-3 victory over Bucknell.

Perez says he looks forward to the fall and practices that start in about a month, as the conference has expanded to 14 teams with the addition of St. Louis and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

“At LaSalle, you keep on learning, and there’s an All-American on our team,” said Perez. “Defensively, we’ve gotten better, and as a striker, my defense has improved surprisingly. When you play better defense, you have a better chance to score.”

And Perez has made the most of those opportunities.

The Boca U-20 team holds an overall record of 6-6-2 for the summer, including seven exhibition games, and a Mid-Atlantic Summer Showcase league record of 3-4-0. Perez leads the way with five goals, and Justin McGrath, also of Brick and Seton Hall University, follows with three goals and an assist.