By: Anthony Lopez, The Plaid, Sports Editor
Isaac Balderrama has been playing soccer for over a decade. However, this Friday night’s game will be what he calls the biggest game of his career thus far. On this Friday night, the Varsity Boy’s Soccer team will play its round one CIF Playoff game. A loss means automatic elimination. A win moves the team onto round two. Nevertheless, the season has been a success as the Highlanders ended as Baseline League champions, with an overall league record of ten wins and two losses.
Isaac Balderrama, the junior center back and center defensive mid, has been playing soccer since he was four years old. It’s been a long road and he believes his success came from great coaching. “Coaches have pushed me hard to become a great soccer player, and they still do,” said Balderrama. Nothing compares to this year, however, as Balderrama explains that varsity head coach, Coach Diaz, has really created the opportunities that he needed to become a better player. “The atmosphere Coach Diaz has created this year has also made me work harder to be a part of varsity. This year has also been very different because of the coaching style we have, and I’m learning a style of soccer that I grew up idolizing,” said Balderrama.
Besides a great staff, Balderrama has also enjoyed having valuable relationships with his fellow teammates. When asked why he loves soccer so much, Balderrama said, “The game of soccer has allowed me to make relationships and memories that I’ll have forever. The camaraderie it creates is amazing to me.” Obviously, the entire soccer team, as a whole, has developed a strong amount of chemistry and great relationships, as the team has had a memorable season. “The goal, just like every other team, is to win CIF. I’m very confident in the team that we can do it. We’ve grown a lot together. Tough losses and unforgettable victories have allowed us to become a team that fights for each other” said Balderrama, who believes if the team continues to hold their heads high, the year will be a success.
Balderrama’s main focus right now is not on a CIF championship. He is solely focused on what will happen Friday night. Balderrama said, “We’re capable of winning CIF. We have the dedication and the right leaders. But, that’s the future and the focus right now is on La Mirada at 5pm on Friday.” He went on to say, “I believe the team is capable of delivering a championship worthy performance, but nothing in life is guaranteed, much less a title.” Regardless what the results of this year’s CIF playoffs will bring, Balderrama just wants to see his team hold their heads high. “I expect nothing more than what my team is willing to offer, so long as they can hold their heads high at the end,” said the MVP of games against Damien and Rancho Cucamonga.
Considering Balderrama is only a junior, the success can only come in greater volumes next year. But, nothing has come easy for him, as he stressed that becoming a great player takes a lot of dedication and effort. To anyone who wants to follow a career in soccer, Balderrama said, “Stick to it because soccer is a sport where you only get better as long as you keep practicing consistently and putting in an honest effort.” All of Balderrama’s hard work, practice, and efforts will culminate into one big showdown on Friday evening.
The Highlander team, which is coming off a co-championship in the Baseline league with Chino Hills, will be playing at home (Highlander Stadium) against La Mirada, this Friday night at 5:00pm. Balderrama and company will be looking for the victory that will carry them one step further. The team has the capability to achieve great success this season, and only time will tell.