VMS All-STAR Boys Soccer: Villarreal strong in net for ’Hounds

Gonzalo Villarreal is one of those goalkeepers who came and played four standout seasons on the varsity for the San Benito Greyhounds.

There is a lot to be said for a goalkeeper like that, and the Greyhounds will certainly miss him now that he is graduating.

As he moves on from high school, Villarreal takes with him the award as the Valley Morning Star’s 2019 All-STAR Boys Soccer Goalkeeper of the Year.

“All of these four years playing for San Benito have been special for me,” he said. “The coaches have been pushing us (to make the playoffs), so it’s been great for the Greyhounds. We got to the playoffs this year for a reason. It was because we were playing as a team. I feel that we had very good players all the way from the back (of the field on defense) to the ones on the offensive end.”

The Greyhounds returned to the postseason this year for the first time since 2014 as the fourth-place team from District 32-6A.

Villarreal was a key contributor in helping the team accomplish that feat.

“Gonzalo was just a natural at being a goalie,” Greyhounds coach William Huerta said. “He always came to practice with the mentality of being a great goalie, and that carried over into the games.

“He was a four-year starter for a reason,” Huerta added. “I believe he has the talent to play at the next level. With his work ethics, I believe it can and will happen.”

Villarreal said his immediate plans are to attend the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley next school year and study criminal justice.

He’s happy to culminate his high school days by winning the All-STAR award as the area’s top goalkeeper. He also was named a first-teamer at goalkeeper on the All-District 32-6A team this season.

“It feels like something very special for me because I’ve been working so hard since my freshman year,” he said. “It just feels great.

“What I tell myself before every game when I’m on the field is that no shot is going to go by me for a goal,” Villarreal added. “Telling myself that is a motivation for me.”

Villarreal said he has a lot of people to thank for helping him end his high school soccer career on such a high note.

“I would like to thank my Dad, who is Armando Villarreal, and all of my coaches that have been there pushing me and pushing the team,” he said. “All of these four years have been great to me because I really love playing soccer.”