Gustavo handles the soccer ball like a Ferrari handles asphalt: with control. Yet they both have flashiness and grace at the same time.
Brazil is a nation prideful of its rich history of dominance in soccer. At 13 years old, Gustavo Ferrari got to experience it while playing for the soccer club São Paulo FC’s youth team for two years in Brazil, sharing the field with several players from the Brazilian National Team. Among them included Antony Matheus dos Santos, who plays for Ajax, and Igor Gomes, who plays for São Paulo FC.
Fast-forward to his fourth game as a Gator, Ferrari’s teammates congratulated him as he raced around the field after recording a hat trick. He’s had one of the top seasons of any player in the nation, which may help him join his former teammates as a professional soccer player some day.
His parents are from Brazil, but he’s lived in Canada most of his life. His parents moved to Canada since his father received an opportunity to coach soccer. Gustavo transferred to SF State this fall from Indiana University East.
“When I first got here, I thought it was super cold,” Ferrari said. “I don’t know why I just thought about California being super hot. It’s completely different from where I was in Indiana. The traffic here is way crazier. But I really like how the transport here is so easy.”
Ferrari, a striker on scholarship, arrived in San Francisco in July to get ready for the preseason with his new team. Most of the team is new, with lots of freshmen, transfers and only two senior players. But Ferrari made an instant impact on his new teammates, arriving before anyone else to the field and staying after everyone left to put up more shots.
“Someone with a work ethic like that has an immediate impact on the team’s culture,” goalkeeper Erik Ornelas said. “It helps everyone recognize, okay, this guy is playing and holding himself to a high standard, we all need to match that because we don’t want to let each other down.”
For the week of Sept. 6-12, Ferrari was named the CCAA Men’s Soccer Player of the Week, after scoring twice and assisting on a goal in a 3-0 win against Academy of Art. A Gator has not won the award since 2007.
He followed that up with a hat trick in his fourth game of the season, scoring five goals in two games, and was again nominated for the award.
Ferrari’s first of three goals came in the fifteenth minute. He passed it to teammate Julio Gonzalez Ponce, who passed it back in the box to Ferrari, who faked the shot, then transferred the ball to his left side while juking a defender. This created space to bury the ball into the net with fancy footwork.
For his second goal, he stole a poor pass from the opponent and dribbled between two defenders to score from a difficult angle. His last goal was beamed off the post and into the net after evading one defender and shooting it while surrounded by a trio of others.
“I feel like once he got that second one, it was just bound to happen,” defender Justin Wolfe said. “All three goals were really well done, and I think it really shows his quality.”
Among all of NCAA Division II, which consists of over 210 soccer schools, Ferrari is currently fifth in goals and points. A player gets two points for each goal scored and one point for each assist in the stat sheet.
His head coach, Pedro Osorio, is also from Brazil himself. He said that Ferrari is a team-oriented player who excels by getting everybody involved.
“Gustavo’s a very technical high IQ soccer player, so he is looking to use his teammates to break down the opponent,” said Osorio. “He’s not a type of player who’s going to get the ball and just use his speed and skills to dribble by three or four guys, he’s a type of player that’s always looking for his teammates.
Ferrari is currently first in the California Collegiate Athletic Association in goals scored, with nine, and fourth in assists, with four. As a result, he leads the conference in total points with 22. The players with the second and third most points in the conference have 16 and 14, respectively.
Ferrari loves the competitiveness of the game and the relationships built along the way. It’s also a way to get his mind off of other pressing duties, such as managing his school work. He is a Criminal Justice major in his junior year and his backup plan is to go to law school if he does not become a pro athlete.
“Whenever you step on the field, it doesn’t matter if your best friends [are] on the other team, you’re still gonna go at it 100% and you guys are still going to be friends after the game,” he said. “I forget about all my other problems that I have and just focus on that.”
The Gators started the season 4-1 but have three losses and a draw in their last four matches.
They look to get back into the win column Friday vs Cal State San Bernardino. Their next home match is Thursday, October 14 vs Cal State Monterey Bay.