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In the News: South City Senior Delfino Martinez is SM Daily Journal's Athlete of the Week

South City Senior Delfino Martinez is SM Daily Journal's Athlete of the Week for 1-28-2024.
Daily Journal Athlete of the Week: South City’s Delfino Martinez
By Terry Bernal Daily, Journal staff
January 30, 2024
South City boys’ soccer striker Delfino Martinez knew what was on the line.
Winding down a lopsided win last Friday at San Mateo High School, Martinez saw an opportunity to run down a through ball leading him toward the penalty area. He had a ways to go, but so did San Mateo goalkeeper Gio Zuniga. So, despite the Warriors being up 3-0 with 10 minutes to play, Martinez went all out to beat Zuniga to the spot.
“I saw the defender was asking the keeper to come out,” Martinez said. “I knew that was my chance.”
Part of the reason for Martinez’s fiery play was because he was on the verge of a rare feat. Not only would another goal give him a hat trick on the day, he also recorded a hat trick in his previous game, South City’s 4-1 win Wednesday over Jefferson. The other reason, however — the more impressive quality that has earned Martinez the title of Daily Journal Athlete of the Week — is he simply plays all out, all the time, no matter the score.
“Always keep trying,” Martinez said. “But, yeah, a little bit inspired to get two hat tricks in a row.”
Martinez and Zuniga both converged on the spot at the top of the box, but as San Mateo’s keeper went into a foot slide in an attempt to grab the loose ball, Martinez arrived in a full sprint and got a foot to it. He sent it rolling up and over Zuniga’s hands. In one motion, Martinez hurdled the sliding keeper and again ran down the ball. This time, no one was between him and the cage.
“I faked to the right and shifted to the left, went over him,” Martinez said. “I got at least a little tap before the goalie got it, and that gave me one shot at the goal.”
Once the duel for possession was over, the dance to the goal turned into the easiest of Martinez’s six scores on the week. His previous two, both in the first half, were from the top of the box, as he showed off power and precision through traffic. His first two goals against Jefferson were strikingly similar.
At the start of the week, Martinez’s longtime friend and teammate Angel Ramirez was leading the Warriors with 11 goals. Martinez had eight. But a positional switch in moving Martinez to striker, necessitated by a glut of injuries, put him in a position to succeed.
South City head coach Ivan Martinez has been confidently waiting for that success for a while.
“He had a lot of opportunities in previous games, and he just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Ivan Martinez said. “He knew that, and it’s something that we got through in this game. But, again, just talking to him and letting him know: ‘Hey, you’re good enough to compete up there and be consistent. We’ve just got to get one in and eventually things will start rolling.’ And that’s kind of what’s been happening.
“It took one, and that’s it.”
Now, Delfino Martinez leads the team with 14 goals. Ramirez, who added South City’s other goal against San Mateo, has 12. Other seniors like Cristian Urbina — who assisted on Delfino Martinez’s first two goals — Christian Yepez and Eric Barajas are scoring threats as well, while junior Alexis Jimenez and sophomore Adrian Yanez are in the mix for a Warriors team that is now 10-4-1 overall.
“Half the team I’ve been playing with for a very long time,” Delfino Martinez said. “What I’d say has brought us together is the dedication from the beginning, the conditioning, the talking, the hanging out, the communication.”
Delfino Martinez certainly brings a lot to the Warriors’ unique chemistry. Solely a soccer player, he was a club standout for many years with San Bruno Lowen ’83 FC. He will be switching to SF Elite Academy this year when the high school season ends.
The striker’s natural feel for the pitch comes from his being a soccer lifer, something for which he has his father Juan Delfino Martinez to thank.
“He taught me a lot,” Delfino Martinez said. “But I think the most important one was on a Sunday league, when he played soccer, there was a group of them all playing together, and I’m just in the background, 2-, 1-years old, just playing with the ball in the back of the picture.”
Now, Delfino Martinez has thrust himself into the picture as the go-to threat for South City. The emergence comes just in time, too. The Warriors are 5-1 in the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division, in a three-way tie for first place with Hillsdale and Woodside, with four games to go. They are set to host Hillsdale this coming Friday, followed by trip to Woodside, Wednesday, Feb. 7.
“It’s my last year,” Delfino Martinez said. “Got to let it go to make memories, show myself for who I am.”