It is always tough to come into a sport as a freshman and immediately be placed in arguably the toughest position on the field. Freshman goalkeeper Joe Centeno has done just that though, and very well I might add. He has helped lead the men’s soccer team to a solid 9-2 record, giving up only 11 goals in those games, seven of them shutouts. I was able to sit down with Joe for a few minutes and quickly learned that this was a guy who would not let success make him complacent.
“Stressful.” This was the word Joe used to describe the transition from Linganore High School’s team to Eastern’s. “The transition has been very stressful,” he said, “we have upperclassmen and other players always trying to compete for my spot. I have to perform at practice and in the games.” Despite the stress that the competition has brought, Centeno believes it has helped make him better, especially in practice. “In practice, we strive to be perfect in everything we do,” he said, “that’s been a big part of our success.” He went on to say that the team’s work ethic as a whole has been phenomenal and has forced him (in a good way, of course) to step up his own game.
“Favorite moment of the season?” I asked next, and as I sat back, waiting for the words “Beating Cabrini,” I heard something entirely different. “The Drew University win,” Centeno said. “It was a big emotional win.” (Eastern came back from an early 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 on consecutive scores by fellow freshman JD Saracco). He continued to say that the true importance of that win was that it was their first true test of the season at an away venue. Teams that can win big games on the road are always dangerous.
Our attention turned from past to future, and I asked Centeno how things looked for the rest of the season. As far as personal goals, he continued to put the team’s success ahead of his own. “I just want to keep competing and trying to help my team and put them in the best position to win,” he said. But just how much is this team hoping to win? “We want to win a conference championship,” said Centeno, and added, “And then do as well as we can in the NCAA tournament.” Both goals are great to talk about for sure, but at the end of the year, what matters is what happens on the field. With the work ethic this team possesses and a goalie who never stops competing, I’d say the odds are definitely in their favor.