WORTHINGTON -- Men’s soccer at Minnesota West Community and Technical College is still a young program, but it’s getting more competitive all the time. The fact that many of the Bluejay soccer players come from the Worthington area doesn’t hurt.

For several years now, the high school boys soccer program has been outstanding, consistently putting out high-caliber players that have turned the sport into one of the town’s best, hands-down.

There are several Worthington athletes who dot the Minnesota West roster this fall for head coach Jordan Balster, including Manuel Mendez, Ricardo Rodriguez, Anthony Martinez, Gabriel Johnson, Guadalupe Padilla, Bradley Soto, Jason Morales and Rodrigo Flores. Playing college soccer has widened their horizons, too. Teammates come from as far away as California, Japan and the Dominican Republic.

The game schedule is fuller than it was. And victories have come. A 2-1 win over Lake Superior on Aug. 29 kicked off the 2021 slate.

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Manuel Mendez (19). (Tim Middagh / The Globe)
Manuel Mendez (19). (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

Mendez, a West freshman and former Worthington High School player, said he’s enjoying the college game and is happy to be able to play close to home. He’s studying graphic design while here, and he said it’s great to “get to know” new teammates, how they play, and to understand their playing styles while adapting them into the team concept.

No, the Bluejays haven’t garnered quite as many field victories as the Trojans do, but Mendez believes that though winning is always the goal, the most important thing is to continue to progress and to get better every day.

This week’s Globe Drill subject talked about soccer and college life recently while preparing for an afternoon practice. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com. Here’s a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: What was it like playing high school soccer?

ANSWER: “I played soccer at the Worthington high school and I think the experience was one of the best competitive-wise. I’m thinking, one of the best years in soccer here in this town, in general. Playing on a team like that, I think there’s a lot to learn. I think one of the biggest parts for me was the teammates, learning to experience almost every day of your life with the same people training. I’ve known those guys since I was a little kid, you know?”

Manuel Mendez (19). (Tim Middagh / The Globe)
Manuel Mendez (19). (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

QUESTION: And how is Minnesota West soccer different?

ANSWER: “The difference with Minnesota West soccer, it’s more competitive now. And I think, in a sense, it’s a whole different experience. This is my first year with a completely different team -- new people, people that come from around the world. I think that, in a sense, makes it a little more difficult, but also it feels like it’s the first time here.”

QUESTION: Do you have a favorite sports memory you can share?

ANSWER: “I think a memory that will stick with me, was my first year playing soccer in middle school. It was our first game and I remember we played by the high school in the junior varsity field. And we were tied, actually, 1-1 with the team we were playing. It was like the last minute, the last two minutes, and I remember one of my friends passed the ball. I was able to chip it over the goalie, and I remember that moment where it was just a good feeling knowing that I won the game for them. All the fans even came out to the field and celebrated with me. It’s something I’ll always remember. A special thing.”