Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
BOULDER — His teammates have affectionately nicknamed him “Goalmar.”
But there is so much more to Omar Castruita than his ability to put the ball in the back of the net.
The Boulder junior is strong on the ball, sees the field better than most and has the innate ability to make the perfect pass at the right time to set up his teammates for beautiful goals.
His 20 goal and 19 assist season for the Panthers in 2017 has earned him the BoCoPreps.com Player of the Year and, guess what? If you missed him this year, you have the good fortune of one more season of watching one of the state’s premier players next year.
“Omar is a true play maker and it is exciting to see such play makers in the game at such a young age playing high school soccer where they can dynamically open up a game with any touch,” Boulder coach Hardy Kalisher said. “He sees things that other players are simply not going to see and things that coaches don’t even see.
“And he does it on the field in real time.”
Kalisher challenged Castruita before the season with the question of “how do we get the ball to you more?” And his answer was simple, but profound, saying he just needed to work harder to make that happen.
It showed up in the sheer volume of minutes he played. In years past, the recently named All-American Castruita would sit for long periods of time, but the commitment to make himself better resulted in more minutes and ultimately made the Panthers more dynamic.
“His fitness improved this season, which showed in that run to win the Front Range League,” Kalisher said. “And it came from players being fitter and in particular him being fitter as well.”
The Castruita highlight reel is lengthy and would take some time to dissect if you were searching for that defining moment; be it a lengthy free kick that left a goalie standing flat-footed or the hockey-style no look pass that set up a brilliant finish.
“I did have a moment like that, it was against Rocky Mountain and I had a free kick from like 50 yards out and I tried to cross it, but no one touched it,” Castruita recalls, “And it bounced and went in. I was confused that it actually went in, but I started celebrating.”
Said Kalisher: “There is that quintessential goal that he scores, where he is under pressure and there is several that come to mind. But the one that stands out is where he brought a ball down out of the air on the left side at half field against Fairview the second time we played them, took the ball diagonally on the dribble through six of their players and ultimately one-on-one with the keeper, and everybody knows he’s left-footed, but he switched to his right and softly played the ball into the side netting.”
Castruita, whose older brother Brian was on the 2016 state title team and cousins Javi and Luis were on the 2012 champs, knows that his game has to improve so the rest of the field doesn’t catch up and he is willing to take the extra step to make sure it doesn’t happen.
“Every time I step on the field, even if it is a scrimmage, I’ll treat it like a real game,” said Castruita, who joins Quinn Liebmann (now at Gonzaga) on the list of Boulder All-American’s. “People will say I’m good, but I know I can get better. That’s my goal. I want to get better. I want to reach the top level and the offseason is so important, to just stay in shape.”