LONGMONT — For Skyline coach Luis Chavez, it’s not a big secret why Cruz Valdez and Jesus Cervantes form one of the area’s most potent scoring threats.
Club soccer? A small piece of the pie. Chavez’s own daily regimen? A sliver in the grand scheme of things.
For the fourth-year Falcons coach, he sees in those two a passion to get better outside of the team environment.
“In my opinion, they play a lot of soccer,” Chavez said of their explosiveness. “They play at the park, just any time and every time they have a chance. I think I heard some of the kids say they play around a lot, and they trust each other and work with each other away from this setting. It’s more relaxed, and they can truly have fun. Sometimes you know, when coaches are telling them and guiding them, it’s just not as fun as getting together with the ball and just being loose.”
Indeed, last year indicated that Valdez and Cervantes had a connection on the pitch. Valdez led the team with 13 goals, and his counterpart secured 11 scores — easily more than half the team’s total.
But they often fed each other, finding the right points to move the through-ball or setting up opponents for failure by baiting a couple defenders and waiting for the other to find daylight at close range.
For the pair, it has been truly fun to have success, and they each have something to bring to the game to make it pretty exciting soccer.
“For me, it’s really just speed, and I think for him, he has his left foot,” said Valdez, a junior. “He is able to use that left foot to the best of his ability, and he can shield the defender while still moving the ball.”
“We know where each other is running … we just have that connection where we become dangerous,” said Cervantes, the senior of the tandem.
While the team goal-scoring leader at the end of the season gets an award called the Golden Boot — that’s in Valdez’s possession at this point — individual accolades are very frivolous to the two.
“This year, (Cervantes) said we need to get more than 30 goals, so we’re trying to see if we can do that,” said Valdez. “To me, I just want to play for the team. It doesn’t really matter about all that, I just want to score goals for my team.”
What they would love even more is a golden ball, but they also know the playoffs in general have not been kind to the Falcons.
Three seasons in a row, Skyline has met its final fate in the first round of the postseason. Last year was especially gut-wrenching, a 2-1, let’s-decide-it-with-penalty-kicks loss to Golden.
“We came pretty close, thought we were going to win and at the last moment we lost it. That’s our fuel coming into this season and hopefully we can make it al the way through state,” Cervantes said.
Chavez believes his team is ready to surge ahead in that regard, thanks to a bit more experience.
The experience doesn’t start and end with his two big scorers, either. Both of the team’s starting goalies — Jesus Aguirre and Alex Seeley — are back to steer the defense that includes players like Andres Mosqueda, Irvin Sierra, and Gerardo Mesa.
One devastating thing to overcome, however, will be the loss of captain Jonathan Timms to injury. The senior was one of the squad’s best backs last year and probably will miss the entire season.
“It’s the one thing I’m bummed about,” Chavez said of Timms’ injury. “We’re moving people around to try and fill his spot, but we’re also relying on our goalies to be as consistent as they were last year.”
Which could be as easy as knocking the ball around the park every once in a while.
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