Watching the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams play their first games of the year, no one would assume these are teams that have undergone drastic changes, including switching coaches and losing experienced players.
The changes, which would devastate many other teams, have only made them stronger, and the boys’ and girls’ teams chose to capitalize on the positives of their new season.
The girls’ soccer team has a new head coach, Robert Suarez. He was the boys’ previous head coach and stepped up after the girls’ previous coach, Osiel Morales, took on the position of assistant coach. Suarez is excited to take on a new experience of coaching girls instead of boys. He has found the biggest difference to be in the speed of play. It is slower than with boys, but girls follow directions faster.
“The chemistry between the girls is very on point this year and they have a lot of potential to go far. My goal is to improve play every game and get the girls to a District Championship,” Suarez said.
The girls are led by senior captains Kayla Pineda and Sarah Widell. The girls’ team is young, with important players like freshman Gabriela Malavenda, who plays all over the field as a defender, midfielder and forward.
Also important are sophomore Christina Delgado and junior Daniella Clavijo, who both take an active role and are clutch players the team can always count on.
On the boys’ side, the team is blazing through opponents with the help of new head coach Gaston Rubio and new upcoming players like freshmen Martin Muñoz, Diego Leon, William Denight and sophomores Eli Knezevich, Valentin Sabella, Maxwell Russo and Giancarlo Arguello.
This is Rubio’s first time coaching boys. He coached girls’ soccer for 15 years and is eager to take on this new task.
Rubio cites the influx of talent as an important difference between last year’s team and the current one. There is no drop-off of talent between the bench and the starters. Rubio explains that any of them could easily start and cites this as a key to the team’s success.
This talent is just what the boys’ need if they plan on reaching their ultimate goal of winning a State Championship. The MAST Academy boys’ soccer team has never advanced to a District final, making the team’s goal all the more exciting.
Sabella and Arguello are an essential part of reaching this goal.
“Valentin has a great soccer IQ, he is like another coach on the f i e l d . He knows where to be and how t o find his teammates in the game. Giancarlo is one of my center defensive midfielders and he has changed my defense. He is vital to the attack, is always a r o u n d the ball, and is dangerous on set pieces,” Rubio said.
Another central part of the boys’ success is the chemistry between the seniors on the team: Daniel Godoy, Christian Nuevo, Gabriel Ventoso, John Dennis and captains Pablo Saud and Alfredo Rodas.
“These seniors have great leadership, and have been willing to sacrifice personal goals for team goals,” Rubio said.
Both teams are benefitting from the dedication of stellar players and coaches.