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The Drill: Chris Cerda is a certified star in local soccer ranks

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WORTHINGTON -- Soccer is known by many names throughout the world, but some still call it “the beautiful game.” The nuance, the precision -- the way the players move in competitive coordination so well-ordered. The passes, the kicks. Beautiful.

Fans of the Worthington Trojans boys soccer team were given a good glimpse of the beauty of the sport last fall, when the team displayed its athleticism regularly in a state tournament year.

Several of last year’s Trojans will return for another season next school year, but until then they’re continuing to learn and hone their beautiful skills in the summer as part of the Worthington 18U squad under head coach Jose Euceda. Chris Cerda, a mainstay on the high school team who will be a senior in the fall, is a key summer player who is determined that he and his teammates continue challenging themselves to get better.

“Next year we hope to bounce back even stronger,” he said recently.

Cerda first became fixated on soccer when he was 4, maybe 5 years old, when an uncle took him outside to kick the ball around. He has loved it ever since.

On many teams, fans -- especially the casual fans -- love to follow the performances of the goalkeeper, or the forwards. It’s the goalkeeper who makes impressive diving blocks of potential goals. And it’s the forwards, mostly, who do the scoring.

Cerda, however, is a defenseman. And not just any defenseman, but a brilliant one who seems to always be in the right place at the right time -- who wastes no motion, but can always be expected to place his kicks smartly to just the right teammate and in the perfect spot. The way he uses his head and body to block and re-direct kicks is exceptional. Fans find it very satisfying, at times, to take their eyes off the forwards for a while and simply to watch Cerda -- who wears hearing aids to deal with a hearing deficiency that he was born with -- do his thing.

“Maybe once or twice I can’t listen to my teammates, and they know it. I just adapt to it,” he said.

The Globe interviewed Cerda recently for The Drill. You can see the resulting video online at www.dglobe.com. Here is a sampling of the interview:

QUESTION: How has your soccer history progressed since your earliest playing days?

ANSWER: “When I first played soccer I was a goalkeeper. Then I transferred to a forward for a while, and then a midfielder. And now I’m a defender, and I think that’s my favorite position.”

Q: What kind of a season has the 18U summer team had?

A: “This U18 summer team, so far we’re undefeated with a tie, but we’re not going to let that faze us. We’re going to keep on going. We have a tournament coming up next month called the Schwan’s Cup, and that’s an international tournament with teams from all over the world coming to play. We’re just training for that, and hopefully we win that tournament. And that’s our focus for this season.”

Q: Have you thought about your personal plans for the future?

A: “After high school I hope to play soccer. To me, it doesn’t matter where I play, I just want to keep playing. But also, I want to get an education in engineering and get a good job in the future.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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