By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Roseland Prep boys soccer team began the 2011 season with just three seniors. Then one of them quit. Another missed some games, meaning the Knights went much of the season with just one senior on a roster that included four freshmen and three sophomores. Yet they finished 17-5-3 and made it to the quarterfinal round of the North Coast Section Division 2 soccer playoffs.
How did Roseland Prep do it? It helps when your lone senior is Roberto Macias, a player whose leadership skills might surpass his considerable talent.
“He took on the role of a leader, on and off the field,” Roseland coach Augustin Fonzeca said of Macias. “He helped the freshmen, not just with their skills but with grades and stuff.”
When he was a freshman, Macias said, the seniors helped him transition to high school soccer, which requires greater discipline and commitment than most youth soccer. But they didn’t really take the trouble to work with him on off-the-field issues like studying and time management. He vowed it would be different when he got to the 12th grade.
It helps that Roseland is a tight community, and Macias knew most of his younger teammates through family or through youth soccer. They formed a strong, if inexperienced, team that wound up edging Anderson Valley for the NCL II title.
Macias was the glue that held it all together. He began the season as a center-defender, then moved out to left-defense. When the Knights were having trouble scoring, Fonzeca moved Macias up to midfield, usually on the right side.
“I really enjoyed the flexibility,” Macias said. “As a player, I love the game of soccer. I just want to be out there.”
Macias has good size and speed, and he possesses another advantage: He’s left-footed, and proved to be extremely difficult to tackle when moving to his left. He also had a flair for the dramatic. Whenever Roseland Prep needed a big goal, it seemed, Macias was there. Case in point: Against Davis on Aug. 27, Roseland Prep was down 1-0 late in the game and on the verge of falling to 2-2-1 when Macias drilled a volley from 25 or 30 yards to tie it.
“He facilitated,” Fonzeca said. “He ran the show.”
Macias has not yet received a formal offer to play college soccer, but said he has been drawing interest from several Northern California programs.
2011 ALL-EMPIRE SMALL-SCHOOL BOYS SOCCER
Player of the year: Roberto Macias, Roseland Prep, senior, D/MF
Manny Almeida, Anderson Valley, junior, D
Uriel Ayala, Fort Bragg, senior, MF
Leith Butler, Fort Bragg, senior, D
Cody Cantrell, Rincon Valley Christian, senior, MF
Frankie Graham, Sonoma Academy, junior, D
Garret Griffin, Sonoma Academy, senior, F
Christian Mendoza, Anderson Valley, junior, GK
Jose Molina, Calistoga, senior, MF
Luis Ortega, Roseland Prep, junior, MF/F
Oscar Ochoa, Cloverdale, senior, D
Marty Siragusa, St. Vincent, senior, D
Hector Cruz, Anderson Valley, senior, MF
Rodrigo Estrella, Roseland Prep, junior, D
Manuel Gomes, St. Helena, senior, F
Raymundo Gregorio, Clear Lake, senior, GK
Michael Iturbe, Roseland Prep, junior, MF
Oscar Martinez, Kelseyville, senior, F
Carlos Portillo, Fort Bragg, junior, MF
Benji Rifati, Sonoma Academy, senior, F
Wences Rojas, Kelseyville, senior, D
Mauro Serrano, Fort Bragg, senior, MF
Edgar Vargas, Calistoga, junior, D
Coach of the year: Eduardo Ledesma, Kelseyville