Honduran soccer stars make NR history
Published 8:40 pm Friday, July 10, 2015
Never before had a Nansemond River High School boys’ soccer player received state-level recognition, but the Warriors’ three Honduran-born stars raised the bar and received it this year.
Nansemond River freshman defender Maycol Reyes made the 2015 Virginia High School League Group 4A boys’ soccer all-state first team, while his brother, junior forward Brayan Morales, and junior midfielder Axel Lopez made the all-state second team.
“All three of the kids did such a great job,” Warriors coach Dustin Tordoff said. “I’m so proud of them. It’s awesome.”
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Reyes started the season at forward but helped contribute to a shift in the trajectory of Nansemond River’s season when he moved back to defense.
“I’m so happy that he got rewarded for the season he had,” Tordoff said. “You look down the list and there’s one freshman on the first or second team on all-state and that’s Maycol. And I’m happy for him that because he’s a freshman, it didn’t hold him back.”
Oftentimes, voting coaches favor older players over younger.
Defenders do not generally have statistics individually associated with them, so for a freshman like Reyes to be selected to the all-state first team, he had to really distinguish himself by his overall play.
“He stands out on the field in every aspect of the game,” Tordoff said. “I know that Jamestown (High School) liked the way he played, and being that they were the state champs, I feel like that really helped his cause.”
He also took all of the Warriors’ free kicks. Offensively, he finished the year with two goals and eight assists.
Jamestown ended Nansemond River’s season in the Region 4A South semifinals, but the Warriors finished the year with an impressive 12-6-2 record and their first title of any kind, the Ironclad Conference tournament championship.
Reyes, Morales and Lopez all faced a noteworthy transition when each of them first began playing American high school soccer, which features a distinct style of play.
“They have never seen soccer played that way before,” Tordoff said. “It’s a totally different game.”
Morales struggled significantly with that last year, but he made the adjustment this year and greatly increased his offensive production, generating 15 goals and 10 assists.
The transition was less rough for Lopez, who already had some experience playing in the United States. He was a major standout in the midfield this season with 11 goals and 10 assists.
A 5-0 regular season loss to King’s Fork High School proved to be a major turning point for Nansemond River this season. After that game, Tordoff moved Reyes back to defense, he moved Morales from midfield to a forward position and he made Lopez more of an attacking midfielder than a defensive one.
Also at that point, the Warriors and their Honduran trio dedicated themselves to playing as hard as they could for each other instead of for themselves.
“I think that’s one of the major reasons why they got so much recognition, because when they played, you could tell that they were playing with everything they had,” Tordoff said. “They’d leave the game exhausted or exalted, one or the other.”