The Mineral Wells boys soccer team were unable to clinch a district championship on Friday, losing to rival Stephenville 0-1. The loss drops the Rams to second place in district with two games remaining in the regular season.
The soccer team is composed of seniors mostly. They witnessed the highs and lows of competitive battle during their high school tenure and hope to finish the regular season on an upswing.
“We have a good group of kids that have kind of gone through the wringer the last two or three years,” said Head Coach Rolando Borjon. “This is their year to shine.”
In 2018, when today’s seniors were merely freshmen, the team won nine games and finished as co-champions of 4A District 4. The next year, the Rams won 13 games and a district championship.
Last year, the team won 11 games before being unable to complete the season due to COVID issues.
This year, the team was on a strong roll, holding down first place in district and enjoying a six-game win streak when snowmageddon hit Palo Pinto County in mid-February and shut down school activities for a week. The Rams went two weeks without a game, which could have knocked them off their groove but didn’t.
The Rams returned to the soccer field on Feb. 23 to face their biggest rival, Stephenville, and won in a nail-biter, 2-1. Then, they drubbed Brownwood and Graham handily and reached 10 wins and were undefeated in district with three games left before losing to Stephenville.
The team’s seniors include Marvin Renteria, who also kicked and punted for the Rams football team. He started for the soccer team as a freshman and set the school record for goals with 22. He missed his junior year due to a knee injury.
This year, he's just a couple of goals shy of breaking his own record.
“He is a key player, a phenomenal player,” the coach said. “He has done great things for us.”
Team captain Diego Andrade has proven valuable in a utility role as injuries and COVID issues have created roster challenges.
“I can put him anywhere, defense, midfield, forward,” Borjon said. “We’ve had to move him around, and he’s done well in every position we’ve put him in.”
Goalkeeper Miguel Hidalgo was the district’s goalkeeper of the year as a freshman and has maintained that high level of play for four years.
“He’s had a great year,” the coach said.
Christian Narvaez has buoyed the defense on the back line through strong play and leadership and managed to score several goals from that position.
Keegan Green, a midfielder, has started for four years and is enjoying a solid senior year at midfielder.
“He’s one of those kids that, as a freshman, we saw potential and thought if he can stay after it and put some work in the offseason, he is going to be a player,” Borjon said. “He has shown that to us and done a great job for us.”
Christian Rodriguez is another senior who has done a “great job” while providing “consistency and 100 percent effort,” the coach said.
David Ramos didn’t play as a freshman and had his ups and downs last year as a starter, but this season he has “turned out to be a good offensive player,” Borjon said.
Other team members include Angel Dominguez, Ryan Carter, Micah Gray, Jose Garcia, Freddy Hernandez, Jared Valle, Jovan Ramirez, Vincente Martinez and Omar Galvan.
Borjon is in his 11th season as head coach at Mineral Wells, overseeing a soccer program that was established in the mid-1990s. He coaches the girls soccer team as well. They have won eight games so far.
“They are doing good,” he said. “They’ve improved from last year.”
Over the years, the school’s soccer program has “been more on the winning side than the losing side, and it’s all credit to the kids who put in the time and work in the offseason,” Borjon said.
Winning breeds success, which acts as a magnet for kids. Interest in soccer has increased in recent years at the high school, the coach said.
“Part of it has to do with the success of the programs here,” he said. “As kids, you want to model what the older kids do. If the kids see that [participation] — if you’re being successful, who doesn’t want to be successful? That helps the program.”
He thanked the parents and coaches who have worked with kids through the Mineral Wells Soccer Association in their formative years.
“They’ve done a tremendous job of keeping the kids in the sport,” he said. “Soccer is not necessarily the sport that kids choose to do because there is a lot of running involved.”
Once those kids arrive at high school, “it makes it easier to coach them because they have a good foundation,” Borjon said.” You have to have a good foundation to build a program.”