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All-SCV Boys Soccer POY Uriel Rodriguez: Dual Returns

Uriel Rodriguez came back in 2011 and so did his team

Posted: April 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Uriel Rodriguez helped Hart reach the CIF-SS Div. III quarterfinals in 2011.

 

It wasn’t just Hart that had a comeback season.

Uriel Rodriguez did too, and it was no coincidence.

Hart finished dead last in the Foothill League a year ago and Rodriguez didn’t even play.

The senior returned for a final season with the Indians and ended up leading his team to its best finish in nearly 30 years.

Turns out it was a good decision to play after deciding to sit out his junior year for personal reasons, and now he is the 2011 All-Santa Clarita Valley Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

It’s hard to pin an entire team’s fortunes on a single player, but his impact became very clear as the league season progressed.

He scored a team-high 12 goals, but 11 of them were scored in the first seven games of the season. But Rodriguez didn’t simply go cold or lose his touch in the second half of the season.

Once opposing Foothill teams saw his numbers and saw the Indians atop the standings, they began to swarm defenders around him.

He became the focal point of teams’ defensive gameplans.

Fortunately for Hart, it had an offensive style that lent itself to spreading the scoring around.

Rodriguez didn’t mind as long as his team kept winning.

And it did. Though a league title eluded it by a single point, Hart advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division III quarterfinals, which was two rounds farther than any other team in the league.

Only one other Hart team had advanced that far in program history, and that was in 1983.

The single goal scored by Rodriguez in the second half of the season came in the first round of the playoffs against Pacifica of Oxnard. He scored a second-half goal and also scored on the opening penalty kick attempt after overtime finished in a 3-3 tie. Hart won 4-3 in PKs.

Even when he wasn’t scoring, it seemed everyone on the field always knew where he was, whether friend or foe.

The Indians used a methodical, buildup style to create scoring opportunities. It relied on a lot of verbal communication and a lot of calling out of specific names — none more common than “Uriel!”

The team wanted him to have the ball in any situation, whether behind three goals, ahead three goals or needing a single score in overtime.

All of those situations came up throughout the season, including Hart’s final playoff game, a 3-2 loss to Fontana.

Fontana had led 3-0 at halftime, but Hart’s comeback rally fell short.

Immediately following the game, Rodriguez was shocked. He honestly believed his team was going to be able to pull it off.
More than anything, Rodriguez wanted to win.

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