THE BULLETIN’S 2012 ALL-AREA SOCCER TEAM
• MARCUS MONTANO, MANTECA HIGH: Montano was a sight to see during his sophomore season for the Buffaloes. He was one-half of a dynamic striking duo for the Co-Valley Oak League champions, leading the team with 55 points and 22 goals.
• RUBEN LOPEZ, SIERRA HIGH: Sierra reaped the benefits of Lopez’ play throughout the 2012 season. Lopez joined teammate Nicholas Gonzalez as one of the VOL’s most dangerous forward duos, helping Sierra to a Co-VOL title and a semifinal playoff berth.
• ERIC NORIEGA, SIERRA HIGH: “Nori” as he was called on the pitch by teammates was the focal point of the Timberwolves soccer team. Noriega guided the Timberwolves from the middle of the field, assessing when and where Sierra’s multiple threats would be in best position to score.
• ALFREDO SOLORZANO, EAST UNION HIGH: Was one of the difference makers for the East Union Lancers, earning a spot as one of the club’s captains for his tireless play on the field. Solorzano was a scoring threat for the Lancers at almost anywhere on the pitch.
• JACK BRIERLY, RIPON HIGH: The Indians were able to make a lengthy post season run thanks largely in part to the play of captain Brierly. Brierly teamed with Trans Valley League Co-MVP Arik Anaya to lead the Indians in scoring and goals.
• ARIK ANAYA, RIPON HIGH: Anaya was voted as the Trans Valley League’s Co-MVO, sharing the honors with Jonathan Rodriguez of TVL champions Riverbank. Anaya led the Indians in scoring and brought an impressive four-year varsity career to a close with a postseason berth.
• JORDAN KRON, EAST UNION HIGH: Kron would likely have earned a spot on the team for throw-in skills alone, but the East Union defender is much more than amazing throw-in skills. Kron, a four-year varsity starter, was the leading force for an East Union defensive unit that narrowly missed a postseason berth.
• CHRISTIAN MANES, RIPON CHRISTIAN HIGH: Manes anchored the last-line of defense for the Knights during their third place Southern League season. Manes was instrumental in the Knights pushing through to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V semifinal and holding teams to a less than one-goal-per-game-average.
• CEASAR REYES, MANTECA HIGH: Reyes was able to mix it up on the offensive end for a few shots on the year, but protecting the Manteca Buffaloes last line of defense was his top priority. Reyes was one of Manteca’s more solid defensive forces, helping the Buffaloes to an impressive 19-3-3 record.
• ABDIEL CHIQUITO, MANTECA HIGH: Of the near seven saves that Manteca High goalkeeper Chiquito posted a game, nearly each of them involved some sort of highlight leap or dive. He was the force for the Buffaloes, turning away 159 shots on the season and leading MHS to a piece of the VOL championship.
— Jagada Chambers
For Nicholas Gonzalez, turning in those jaw-dropping moves on a regular basis is something the Sierra High standout player will never take for granted. Because at one point, medical professionals thought The Bulletin’s All-Area Soccer Most Valuable Player would be in a wheel chair.
Gonzalez definitely was willing and able to dominate during the Sierra soccer season, leading the Timberwolves to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV semifinal after capturing a portion of the Valley Oak League championship.
Gonzalez’ play in the VOL earned him c o-MVP honors in a league that featured a dozen of the most exciting players in the area. His 14 goals and 10 assists in the regular season are both team highs.
“The VOL is a competitive league and I actually like how competitive it is because everybody has to bring their game to a lot higher levels,” Gonzalez said. “It really helps players bring out talent that they didn’t even know they had. That helps players advance in the sport itself and we all want that.
“I’d have to say there were like three to four players on every team that stood out to me.”
Standing out was what seemed like it would not be reality for Gonzalez at 8 years old. Gonzalez’ eye color changed at a moment’s notice and after a trip to the doctor he was referred to Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and uveitis. Medical staff informed the family he would likely be in a wheel chair within six months.
At this point Gonzalez was legally blind and had no interest in anticipating a life without sight and soccer. Gonzalez has perfect vision today, and the adversity that he experienced as a child, likely shaped the attitude and work ethic of the area’s best player.
“Soccer is not really easy, it just takes a lot of hard work and determination,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just like any other sport; you have to work hard and do your best and sometimes things work out for the best.
“It’s almost like things go your way because you’ve worked so hard.”
It would be impossible for Gonzalez to have the skill-set that he has without putting in the work. The Timberwolves came up short in their quest for the section crown, but the resiliency the team showed to earn a co-VOL title was rewarding enough. The next stage for Gonzalez will likely be at the collegiate level, but his aspirations in the game are aimed higher than the college ranks.
“With college, I want to take my game to the next level and just put forth my best effort,” Gonzalez said. “I’m hoping that soccer can take me far, I want to be able to go places in life with soccer.
“It really has just always been one of my dreams.”