Herrera didn’t need to create a closeness and family aspect with his team, because it had already been established.
“We’re all brothers, in a sense,” senior midfielder Jeff Johnson said.
Yelm has built a big family in the starting lineup. There are three sets of brothers – Daniel and Miguel Gonzalez, Alejandro and Juan Cisneros and Anthony and Austin Avelar. The Gonzalezes and Cisneroses are also cousins. Freshman midfielder Juan Chavez also is a cousin to the Gonzalezes and Cisneroses, so that means seven of the 11 starters have at least one relative on the field with them.
The Gonzalezes are strikers, junior Alejandro Cisneros and freshmen Juan Chavez and Austin Avelar are part of the midfield, and seniors Juan Cisneros and Anthony Avelar anchor the defense.
“I’ve never played on a team or been part of a team with so many sets of brothers,” said Herrera, who is in his first season at the helm of the Tornados.
The Cisneroses, Gonzalezes and Juan Chavez live minutes from each other and spend countless time at each other’s homes. Pick-up games, kicking a soccer ball around, and honing their skills on the weekends is a regular thing. Playing together for years has made a difference while playing for their high school team. Chavez is the newest member of the family clan, moving from Mexico last year.
“We know how we play,” said Miguel Gonzalez, a senior. “We know each other and where we’re going to be even before we pass it.”
“Knowing what each other is thinking makes it a little easier,” Juan Cisneros said.
The Gonzalezes have been the Western Cascade Conference’s offensive MVP the past two seasons, Miguel in 2008 and Daniel last season.
Miguel played all of last season with a torn meniscus in his knee, but still scored 19 goals and was a first-team all-WCC striker. Daniel had a breakout sophomore season as a forward/midfielder after playing goalkeeper as a freshman. He scored 19 goals – including five game-winners – and had 14 assists in his MVP season.
It’s the second sport this school year the Avelars have played together. In the fall, the two saw significant time on the varsity in football. Anthony was all-league at defensive back and Austin stepped in at quarterback a few games when starter Jordan Cameron was hurt.
The Gonzalezes are a prolific scoring tandem. The pair has combined to score at least one goal in each game Yelm has scored. They’re poised to get Yelm back to the state playoffs after last year’s disappointing season-ending loss to Bonney Lake in the district tournament,
“Hopefully, we’ll go far this year,” Juan Cisneros said.
Miguel Gonzalez, Juan Cisneros and Johnson were part of a freshman class in 2007 that helped transform the Tornados soccer program. Although they finished 4-6-2 in league in ’07, it was a positive step for a program that had one winning season in history.
Each of the past two years Yelm made the postseason, including its first state berth in 2008. All of it has been with the nucleus of the starting lineup intact.
“It’s nice to have all of us together,” Johnson said. “We’re lucky we all fell into the same area together.”
Yelm (7-3-0, 0-2-0 WCC) is looking for its first WCC win at 7 p.m. today against Timberline.
Herrera said his team has everything it needs to go far in the postseason – goal scorers, solid defenders and good goalkeepers. Jacob Smith and Oscar Alvarez split time in goal, and have a 1.7 goals-against average with two shutouts.
“I have all the confidence in the world in them,” Herrera said. “They have the ability to go as far as they want. As long as they stay focused, we can beat any team in the state.”
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473