All-Empire small schools boys soccer player of the year: Alex Morales

2014-15 All-Empire small schools boys soccer player of the year Alex Morales of Roseland University Prep. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

2014-15 All-Empire small schools boys soccer player of the year Alex Morales of Roseland University Prep. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

By TED SILLANPAA

FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

It was a big year for small schools boys soccer, but no one’s season was bigger than the one turned in by Roseland University Prep’s senior sensation Alex Morales.

Morales led the Knights to a 17-3-3 record and second place in North Central League II play behind powerful North Coast Section champion Anderson Valley. He was voted NCL II Player of the Year by league coaches and has been selected by The Press Democrat as the All-Empire Small School Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

“I thought our team had a great season,” Morales said of his Knights, who finished ranked 34th in California by MaxPreps among schools that play soccer in the fall. Roseland University Prep was ranked a spot behind Anderson Valley, but just ahead of Division I soccer power Napa High. “We played really well as a team. I wasn’t surprised by how the season went.”

Morales credited his teammates’ offseason work ethic for their success during the season. Something came of it, clearly, after the Knights outscored opponents 78-22 during the season.

“Our whole team worked really hard all summer to get ready,” he said. “We all got in really great shape and improved our skills.”

Roseland University improved to the point it played NCS Division III powerhouse Anderson Valley virtually even in two meetings. Anderson Valley won 1-0 in a September meeting, but the two teams played to a scoreless tie in October.

Morales had high praise for all of his teammates including all-NCL II picks Derian Saldona, Enrique Sanchez and Jose Ramirez. All four stars are seniors.

Morales, who started playing soccer when he was 8 years old, said he played other sports. His real love was soccer.

“I liked the training and how working hard paid off,” Morales said. “I like different sports, but soccer was my favorite. It takes a lot of focus.”

Morales is headed to San Jose State University where he hopes to play soccer. He intends to major in kinesiology.

He’ll take with him memories of a magnificent senior season, including a 3-0 win against Bentley to open the North Coast Section Division playoffs. Roseland University Prep outshot the visitors 28-5 in the showdown at Elsie Allen High.

“We were very physical in the back,” Morales remembered. “We had a lot of really good combinations and we had a couple goals and shut it down.”

The Knights rolled to that impressive North Coast Section victory using the same approach Morales used to enjoy personal success that then led to team success.

“We just need to stay humble on the field. We just need to keep focused and dedicated in the game.”