NRHS’ top honors go to Hondurans

Published 9:25 pm Friday, June 26, 2015

Nansemond River High School’s boys’ soccer team had three representatives on the 2015 all-region first team. They are, from left: Brayan Morales, Axel Lopez and Maycol Reyes.

Nansemond River High School’s boys’ soccer team had three representatives on the 2015 all-region first team. They are, from left: Brayan Morales, Axel Lopez and Maycol Reyes.

The Nansemond River High School boys’ soccer team has a special reason to be thankful for Honduras. The country provided the team with three of its best players, who were recently named to the 2015 All-Region 4A South first team.

The Honduran-born trio includes junior forward Brayan Morales, his brother, freshman defender Maycol Reyes, and junior midfielder Axel Lopez.

Morales improved upon his accolade from last year when he made the all-region second team as a midfielder.

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“I thought it was deserved,” Warriors coach Dustin Tordoff said of the step up to first team. “He makes the other coach and the other defenders game-plan for what he’s going to bring, so he’s completely deserving of it.”

Morales led Nansemond River in goals scored this season with 15 and added 10 assists.

Tordoff notes that while Morales’ goal tally may not have been as high as other strikers in the region, it was simply indicative of the fact that the Warriors had a lot of offensive weapons. At least 14 players on the team scored during the course of the year.

Morales was key in the postseason, scoring the only goal in the conference tournament championship game against Denbigh High School and assisting Lopez on the only goal scored in the regional quarterfinal against Midlothian High School.

Like Morales, Lopez improved this season on a 2014 all-region second team accolade, one earned for his play then at the forward position.

Of Lopez’s 2015 first-team honor, Tordoff said, “He’s an all-around excellent player, so it was well-deserved.”

Lopez finished the year with 11 goals and 10 assists and was known for his ability to win and maintain possession of the ball in the midfield.

Despite Lopez’s small stature compared to some opponents, “he wins balls in the air,” Tordoff said. “He’ll get his body in the right position to be able to win balls in the air.”

He is also skilled at winning the ball on the ground and keeping it.

“He’s one of the kids that is the hardest to take the ball from in practice and the game,” Tordoff said. “He’s just really difficult to dispossess.”

In addition to scoring the winning goal in the regional quarterfinals, Lopez also scored Nansemond River’s only goal in the regional semifinal against eventual Group 4A state champion Jamestown High School.

Maycol Reyes’ first-team honor is the first possible All-Region 4A South recognition of his career since he is only a freshman.

“Maycol’s a freak — he’s just an unbelievably talented soccer player,” Tordoff said.

Older players tend to be the ones who receive awards, but the coach was pleased Reyes’ age did not end up being an obstacle to his receiving due recognition.

“He’s one of the best defenders that we have in our area,” Tordoff said. “He’s almost impossible to beat one-on-one.”

Reyes started the season as a forward for the Warriors and played well, but an injury to one of his teammates on defense later caused Tordoff to put him in the back.

“He completely changed the direction our season was going,” the coach said.

Nansemond River had fallen 5-0 to King’s Fork High School, but then a Reyes-led defensive resurgence made the Warriors more competitive for the remainder of the season. They finished with a 12-6-2 record overall and won their first title of any kind.

Reyes also took all of his team’s free kicks. Offensively, he finished the year with two goals and eight assists.

Making the all-region second team for Nansemond River was junior midfielder Ty Williams and senior defender Austin Heyman.

King’s Fork sophomore forward Sterling McGee made the second team, and Bulldogs junior defender Kenwood Harris received honorable mention.