Duarte receives honors for goalkeeping
Brandon Duarte knew his time would come in soccer.
He knew his team would come along, too.
They proved it in a soccer tournament against adults when they were freshmen. The team finished fourth out of 12 teams and Duarte, now a senior, was named the top goalie of the tournament. The problem was that the Moffat County High School soccer team couldn’t beat teams their own age.
“After we beat those men’s teams, we knew we could win,” Duarte said. “It just took us a couple of years to get there.”
The team endured two seasons without a win, which meant during Duarte’s sophomore and junior year, he had plenty of practice stopping shots. His senior year it paid off as the Bulldogs had their best season in years and Duarte was recently named to the Honorable Mention All-State soccer team for class 4A by the Rocky Mountain News.
“I was constantly being worked the previous three years,” said Duarte, who started as goalie all four years. “We had a lot of seniors who had played together all four years on defense and we reached our prime this year. It was definitely a lot more fun.”
Duarte’s 153 saves this season were the third most in 4A according to the RMN. All of these stats and an All-State honor wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for an injury.
“In sixth grade I hurt my leg but I still really wanted to play,” Duarte said.
“My dad said the only way I could play was if the coach would allow me to be goalie.”
He grew to enjoy being in the goal — in more ways than one. Duarte would eventually fill out a 6’3″ frame and prove to be a daunting presence in the goal.
“College coaches have mentioned that while he’s a little raw around the edges, he has good natural ability,” said coach Mick Havrilla.
The senior has relied mostly on his naturally ability to keep the ball out of the goal.
“I’ve never really been taught how to be a goalie,” he said. “I just picked up pointers from people here and there.”
With the soccer season over, Duarte is now focusing on wrestling, where he finished third in the state last year. He said that his experience in both sports have complemented each other.
“Wrestling helps me be willing to get on the ground and get dirty,” he said.
“On the other hand, soccer gets me in shape for wrestling.”
Even with stellar prep careers in both sports, he isn’t sure if he’ll pursue them in college.
“I think I just want to focus on academics and get it over with,” Duarte said about the prospects of college. “But if playing soccer can make it more affordable, I can’t rule it out.”
College career or not, Duarte said he has had some good memories from his soccer career.
“Beating Steamboat for the first time ever and my game against Glenwood Springs were my most memorable games,” he said.
In the Glenwood Springs game Duarte had 26 saves and while the Demons’ goalie only had to endure five shots on goal, the
Bulldogs won 3-2.
“Brandon was a vocal leader for us, which is what a team needs in the goal,” Havrilla said.
“He and the rest of the seniors kept us in games.”
While his future in the goal is uncertain, Duarte said he was thankful for the sport and the lessons he’s learned from it.
“You might take a couple of bumps and bruises here and there,” he said.
“But just like in life you have to get up and keep going because eventually it will come.”
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or email@example.com
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