Individual awards earned by Moffat County High School boys varsity soccer players during Wednesday’s banquet:
Western Slope League all-conference honors
• Jonathan Pando
Western Slope League honorable mention
• Jorge Gonzalez
• Johnny Landa
Academic all-state honors
• Eddie Balbuena
• Cody Fallon
• Maury Mirante
• Jonathan Pando
Academic all-state honorable mention
• Bryant Cox
• Brenden Spencer
• Hugh Turner
Having played with coach Rusty Cox and his fellow seniors for more than 8 years, Jonathan Pando said he is sad to be leaving the Moffat County High School soccer team behind.
But, the MCHS senior will be leaving with more than just memories.
Pando received Western Slope League all-conference honors during the MCHS boys varsity soccer team’s season-end banquet Wednesday.
“It is a good way to end my high school career,” Pando said of winning the award. “I played my hardest every game and I tried to help everyone on the team have fun out on the field.
“I played my position as best as I could.”
Pando, who played mid-field for a majority of the season, tied for second on the team with five goals this year.
The season wasn’t always easy though, he said.
Early in the year, Pando broke his nose and then broke a bone in his foot.
Despite the injuries, the team captain didn’t miss a single game.
“I really like playing soccer and I didn’t want to miss a game in my final year,” he said. “I guess my passion for soccer just kept me going and pushing through the injuries.”
Rusty said Pando always came ready to play, but it was his leadership that set him apart.
“Jonathan really, truly became a leader on the team and that is why he was our captain,” Rusty said. “He controlled the game when he was out there and anything the team needed on or off the field, he was there to help.”
After his junior season, Pando was named a WSL honorable mention.
This year, Pando said knowing he was the top dog gave him the confidence he needed.
“Being a senior player feels different because you know that no one is bigger than you out there,” he said. “Last year, we had a lot of good players and we made the playoffs, but this year I played with more confidence.”
The Bulldogs went 6-7-2 overall and 5-4-1 in WSL play this season, but the record aside Pando said he is sad to see it end.
“I’m going to miss playing with everyone on the team,” he said. “And, it may sound weird, but I am going to miss practice and just being on the field all the time.”
Pando’s fellow seniors, Jorge Gonzalez and Johnny Landa, took home WSL honorable mention awards for their season.
Gonzalez said he is proud to be named an honorable mention.
“It feel pretty special,” he said. “I kept working hard all season and I think my passing is what set me apart.”
Rusty said the running ability of Gonzalez and Landa is what earned them their awards.
“Johnny was solid all year and Jorge is just one of my favorite players to watch,” he said. “They both work hard and can run with anyone. We never had to tell them not to stop out on the field.”
Academic all-state awards were also handed out Wednesday.
Pando, freshman Eddie Balbuena and seniors Cody Fallon and Maury Mirante were awarded first-team honors, while junior Bryant Cox, sophomore Brenden Spencer and freshman Hugh Turner were named honorable mentions.
Having coached a majority of the senior class since they were in the U10 soccer league, Rusty said next year is going to be different without them.
“In the blink of an eye, they went from little guys to seniors,” he said. “It is going to be sad to not see them on the field next year.”
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