Schuyler senior Aldair Castorena isn’t scoring goals with the same frequency as a year ago, but make no mistake, he is much better this season.
“I am mentally and physically better this year even if my stats don’t show that,” said the quick-of-foot striker. “I want to make things easier for my teammates. I think I have done that and that makes me an improved player.”
After scoring 10 goals and assisting on five other scores last season in leading the Warriors to the Class B semifinals, Castorena is again Schuyler’s go-to player on offense even if the stat sheet might indicate otherwise.
The Warriors have faced a lot of teams — Omaha-Roncalli and Mount Michael — that loaded the defensive end of the field with six stoppers to try to neutralize Castorena and his teammates.
If Castorena sounds frustrated by the added attention — maybe the purest form of flattery in high school soccer — and the noticeable drop-off in goals, he shouldn’t be, said Schuyler coach Lyndon Beebe.
“Last year, he was looking to score only,” Beebe said. “He’s been a pretty good setup guy this season. He’s looking for his teammates and has assisted on a lot of our goals.”
Castorena is a better player — he’s quicker and stronger this season, Beebe said — but more important, he’s a better teammate. That makes him worthy of mention on our list of Super Seniors, which was chosen by former Telegram sports editor Kollin Miller.
“Right now I just want to focus on my teammates,” Castorena said. “We have some teammates who haven’t been to state and I want to make that happen for them.”
Losing in the semifinals — a 1-0 defeat at the hands of South Sioux City — caused the Warriors to enter this spring feeling like there was some unfinished business that needed tending.
Entering April, the Warriors are ranked No. 5 among the state’s Class B teams, according to the Omaha World-Herald’s poll, but a state ranking isn’t the end goal.
“I think we are hungry,” said Castorena. “We like being ranked up there. We want to be up there at the end, too. We want to make it to the final game — and maybe come out as champs.”
That’s the team-first mentality that Castorena has brought to the forefront this season. Beebe is making the most of it by moving the striker back to midfield in some instances just to ensure the Warriors always have their best players on the field.
“Aldair is one of those kids who can play forward or can play midfield,” Beebe said. “We move him all over. He is equally good with his left as his right. He has a knack to score no matter where we put him.”
He’s had some good looks — some good shots — at the goal thus far. His goal-scorer’s mindset will force him to keep shooting. Eventually, some of those shots are going to find the back of the net.
“My strength is my mentality,” he said. “I always try to be my best and bring the best out in myself.”