Auburn Mountainview's season ends with state tourney appearance | Prep boys soccer

Auburn Mountainview
Auburn Mountainview's Manny Maya-Mendoza maneuvers past a Sunnyside defender.
— image credit: Tracy Arnold/For the Reporter

This past Tuesday Auburn Mountainview ended its 2014 season with a 1-0 loss to Sunnyside in the first-round of the Washington State 3A Boys Soccer Tournament.

Although the road loss put an end to the Lions' season, don't expect the guys to hang their heads.

This year Auburn Mountainview mounted one of the most successful campaigns in the program's history, posting a 13-4-1 overall record, including a second-place finish in the South Puget Sound 3A – ruled by reigning state 3A champ Bonney Lake – with a 7-3-0 record.

This past Saturday the team edged out Foss to secure the program's first state berth since 2010.

"I knew we were going to be good," second-year head coach Jimmy Fioretti said. "Last year we were bit by the injury bug, and historically we've had eligibility problems. But we got most of that cleaned up. We improved our team GPA by half a grade point, from 2.6 to 3.1. So eligibility hasn't been a problem, and we've been lucky enough not to suffer too many injuries. We've got the talent, we're lucky that we've had it on the field on the same time."

According to the team's senior co-captains, Manny Maya-Mendoza and Curtis English, the team's chemistry and its emphasis on grades helped drive this year's success.

"If somebody is getting bad grades, we call them out and help them get them up," Maya-Mendoza said. "But everybody is doing everything they can to play because everyone wants to play. We're a good team."

"Every Thursday we have a study hall," English added. "Instead of practice – it's a rest day after a game – we work on homework together so we can keep the grades up and all play."

Fioretti lauded his captains for their leadership in spurring on the scholastic improvement.

"We've been fortunate. Manny Maya-Mendoza has really stepped up into a leadership role," Fioretti said. "He runs just about everything. He's the verbal leader, the organizer. Then, Curtis English leads by example. He's a hard-working, good kid. So they're responsible for the majority of our success. I just draw up the Xs and Os."

For Maya-Mendoza, it's all about trying to lead by example and spur on his teammates.

"I just try to be the best captain I can and do what I think I should be doing to be the best player that I can be," he said. "I try to motivate the other players and show them that, with hard work, you can accomplish anything."

In addition to being strong on field leadership, Fioretti said, the team's chemistry was crucial to its success this year.

"It's funny, but the guys actually like each other this year," Fioretti said. "Usually, you end up with little cliques or factions. But they actually go out to dinner together and hang out at each others' houses. They're kind of a tight group. They're a diverse group, but they have one thing in common."

And that is?

Their desire to win.

"We find a way to win," Fioretti said. "It's not always pretty, but I'd rather win ugly than lose pretty. They've gotten pretty good at sticking to the game plan. It usually takes them about halfway through the season before they figure out that, if we all do the same thing, the way I draw it up on paper, it will work. This year we figured that out, and all got on the same page and found success."

"Every team builds up and gets better as the season goes on," English added. "That's what our team does defensively and offensively. It's just improvement, improvement, improvement. If we do something wrong during a game, we fix it during practice and it works better the next game. At the beginning of the season, not everybody knew each other or the style of play everybody had. But halfway through the season, it all started clicking together, and we all begin to play one way, not the different ways we all learned over the years."

According to Maya-Mendoza, the team found its stride after a rough outing in a win over SPSL 3A rival Lakes.

"After the Lakes game, when we didn't play that well, we decided we didn't want to play bad anymore," Maya-Mendoza said. "We just made sure that every player was doing their job. When every player does that, we're amazing."

On the pitch, the Lions were led by freshman Erik De Anda's 13 goals and two assists on the season. Junior midfielder Farris Idrees added eight goals and eight assists, and sophomore Christian Rotter had seven goals and three assists. Sophomore forward Duvan Vaca-Trujillo chimed in with a goal and 13 assists. Between the pipes, goalkeeper Nick Hytrek had 11 shutouts for Auburn Mountainview.

When Maya-Mendoza looks back at this season's success, he said, one moment will stand head and shoulders above the rest.

"I'll remember Saturday's game [against Foss]," Maya-Mendoza said. "That was the best feeling ever. Just making it to state, that was my all-time goal. When it was over, I just thanked God for getting us there."

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