The Brownsville Veterans Memorial Chargers have had several go-to players in their soccer lineup who they could count on to score goals.
Throughout the 2020 season, Albert Maradiaga was one of the Chargers’ most reliable players on the offensive end of the field, even dating back to past years.
With a team-best 25 goals to his credit this season, the standout senior midfielder is the top choice for The Brownsville Herald’s 2020 All-Metro Boys Soccer Offensive Player of the Year award.
Maradiaga, a three-year starter and four-year member of the varsity, led the way for the Chargers, who captured the District 32-5A championship with a 12-1 record and 36 points. They finished 19-2-2 overall.
“Being a part of this team means a lot to me,” Maradiaga said. “Ever since I got there the first day (as a freshman), the team made me feel very welcome. The coach staff and my teammates have made me feel very comfortable. That’s something that works out pretty well at the end of the day.
“To be honest, I don’t think anyone (outside the team) really believed that we would actually come out like we have as district champs,” he added. “It’s really just been our hard work. We have lots of juniors on our team and some sophomores, too, (who have been important contributors). It’s been working hard and playing together (as the key to our success).”
As a team captain, Maradiaga felt it was his responsibility to lead the squad.
“Being a team captain is pretty important because you have a big responsibility, not only on the field, but outside of it as well,” he said. “The underclassmen are looking at you, and anything you do, you pretty much have to be a leader out there, telling the guys to go do something right or correct something so the team can be successful.”
Alberto Vasquez, the 2020 All-Metro co-coach of the year with Los Fresnos’ Michael Miller, said Maradiaga has been an important part of Brownsville Veterans’ team dating back to when he began starting some near the end of his freshman season.
“Albert is such an explosive offensive player,” Vasquez said. “He’s able to attack and generate so much out of the midfield position. He’s not a ‘forward-forward,’ he’s an offensive midfielder. The fact that he creates so much offense, either by distributing the ball and creating offensive opportunities for other players or by scoring himself, is impressive. He has been scoring goals for us since he was a freshman, even at the regional tournament.
“He’s just one of those players who has a lot of confidence and is willing to take shots (from anywhere) at the goal,” Vasquez added. “I think that’s one of his strengths. Some players are reluctant to take a shot, but for Albert, it doesn’t matter what side of the field he’s on or whether he uses his right or left foot, he’s willing to create opportunities and be effective.”
Maradiaga, who hopes to play soccer in college, appreciates the recognition he has received. He has 15 games of playoff experience because the Chargers have advanced to the regional final every year since he was a freshman.
“First of all, I’m very blessed and honored (to be the All-Metro offensive player of the year),” he said. “I want to give a big thank you to all my family and friends, who have always been there for me throughout the years. I also want to thank all the coaches and all my teammates for helping me get to where I am right now. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I’d be here right now (receiving honors).
“I’m also proud of myself because in moments like these, it’s when I realize my hard work is paying off,” he added. “I started playing soccer when I was 3, and in my 15 years of playing, this is probably one of my biggest accomplishments.
“Unfortunately our season is over due to the coronavirus. We didn’t really want it to end this way, but we did our best and we won district. I think we pretty much ended the season on a good note.”