The Harlingen High Cardinals have two promising soccer players for the future.
Actually, they’re pretty good already.
Jacob Garza and Jose Garcia were standout underclassmen for the Cardinals this season, as each performed a vital role for the team. Garcia was a sophomore forward who led the squad with 15 goals and between 10 and 15 assists. Garza was a junior midfielder/defender both in the middle and on the side who helped out wherever he was needed on the field.
For their strong efforts, each has won a top award on the Valley Morning Star’s 2019 ALL-STAR boys soccer team. Garcia is the offensive player of the year, and Garza is the utility player of the year.
They say the awards will help motivate them to do better in the future as they try to get the Cardinals back to the playoffs after the team missed out on the postseason in 2019 following a playoff trip in 2018.
“It’s a blessing,” Garza said of his recognition. “Since I got this award (as a utility player) last year, I wasn’t sure if I’d win it again, but I’m excited about it and I can’t wait until next season. It’s a huge motivation.
“This season didn’t come out as planned for us, but we just have to move on from it,” added Garza, who has been a starter since he was a freshman, mostly on defense as a fullback and a center defender. “Next season will be my last year playing for the Cardinals as a senior, and hopefully it will be my best year. I’m also kicking for the Cardinals in football, so I’m looking forward to doing a good job in football, too.”
While Garcia doesn’t play football, he is a multi-sport athlete as well. He just went to the University Interscholastic League state meet last month in the 100-meter dash. He’s looking forward to his next athletic school year as a junior, the same as Garza.
“It’s an honor to be recognized (with All-STAR and All-District 32-6A awards),” Garcia said. “It just means a lot considering the work I’ve put in.”
Regarding his recent trip to state in track, Garcia said, “It was crazy up there, and it was a good experience. I’m hoping to return to state and get a medal next year.”
For all-district this soccer season, Garcia was a unanimous first-team selection at forward. Garza was an all-district second-team defender.
Cardinals coach Johnny Guillen values the contributions of both players. He looks forward to welcoming them back next school year.
“Jacob is the type of player that can play any position on the field,” Guillen said. “He is a true team player. He’s always willing to play any position on the field to help the team be successful. Jacob is a true leader on and off the field.
“Jose is an all-around athlete,” Guillen added. “In soccer, he is able to use his speed as an advantage to get by defenders. When he is in open space and receives a ball, he becomes really hard to stop, and he finishes the ball behind the net well.”
Garza and Garcia each appreciate the opportunity to participate in sports for the Cardinals.
“It’s a big thing to play for the Cardinals,” Garza said, “It’s a huge tradition around here. I’ve always wanted to be a Cardinal. It’s amazing to be one now.
“I just want to play my role when I’m out there and do whatever I can to help out my team,” he added. “Whatever it is, either stopping a play (as a defender when an opponent advances the ball near the goal) or contributing to a goal (as a midfielder with a good pass), anything like that (is what I enjoy doing).”
Garcia is equally proud of representing his school through sports.
“It’s special to play for the Cardinals, and it’s an honor,” said Garcia, a starter at forward since he was a freshman. “We work hard, but we have a lot of fun times, too. My mindset on the field is for us to work together so we can score goals. For me, it’s all about teamwork.
“I’m glad other people are getting to know my name (in soccer and track) and following my path,” Garcia added. “What’s really on my mind is to see us go to the second round (in soccer). It just takes teamwork, and I think we can do it.”