If you look up the word “domination” in some silly book all of us know but never pay attention to, also called the dictionary, you’ll read the words “to have a commanding position or advantage over,” or to “overlook”. Now in the sports world, that is a word that gets tossed around only when it’s meaningful. To dominate is to show total control over your opponent. A pretty good example of dominating is scoring a whopping total of 105 goals in one season, while only yielding 20. 105 to 20… I guess that’s not too shabby. What’s even more wild about these numbers is that they didn’t come out of a video game. They didn’t come from me playing as Real Madrid in Fifa 18 (although I probably couldn’t even do that). No sir. These numbers came from the El Diamante Miners Boy’s soccer team.
You don’t have to be a soccer fan to acknowledge such an accomplishment. But with the regular season now over, the Miners still have accomplished nothing. Yes, they’re outright league champions (which worst case scenario is still something pretty good to hang your hat on). Yes, they’ve set a school record for goals scored in a season (105) and the least goals allowed (20). And yes, Dakotah Ybarra set the single season school record for goals in a season with 33. Now that’s all good and well, but quite frankly, no one really cares about the regular season. When the final whistle is blown to wrap up the 2018, the regular year will be nothing but a faint memory for everyone wearing a jersey. Although going 21-4 and setting all kinds of records is special, nothing will ever top hearing that final whistle go off as you finally rejoice as Valley champions. It’s a feeling I’ve yet to feel, and it’s a feeling that has also evaded all the boys representing El D soccer. So as all the accomplishments, records, and milestones sit in the back of these player’s minds, one thing couldn’t be more clear to them and everyone else involved with the program; they’re not done.
Being able to rep your school and wear the, in this case, Miner logo is one of the greatest privileges of these 4 years. Everyone dreams about being able to earn a ring before your time runs out. Some teams are fortunate enough to be flooded with talent. Others may rely on hard work and long hours to reach the top. But what seperates the men from the boys is the combination of both. Every athlete has heard the old saying that “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”, probably a million times. That saying has become so cliche you don’t hear it that much anymore. But if we’re being honest for sports in the Central Valley, it couldn’t be more true. In my own belief, the Central Valley has some of the best athletes in the state in every sport, and it’s all built around that mindset. I spent many hours on the baseball field throughout the winter break preparing for the new season. And almost on cue, as I’d pull up to the field, I would see the soccer team sweating it out doing the same drills. They would spend every morning hammering the little things until perfection. Every. Single. Morning. These boys are some of the hardest workers around, and it’s what has carried them to such a dominating season.
Men amongst boys is a phrase that jumps in my head every time I’ve watched these boys go to war on the soccer field. I’ve watched a big handful of their matches, and every single time that same little phrase will leap into my brain’s limelight. Ever since I started writing for this website, I’ve had to watch games with a bigger purpose. I couldn’t just kick my feet up and enjoy the show, I’ve had to pay attention. I’ve had to notice the little things that make each team thrive or struggle. It’s made me see sports in a whole new light, and because of that, I’ve been able to notice how truly dominating this squad of men can be. Although I could just take the shortcut and go online to look at their stats, that wouldn’t tell the full story. Being there in person and actually carefully watching has helped paint the full picture. These guys play like they’re invincible. They play with looks in their eyes that crave vengeance. And most of all, they play like predators. Every game they’ve found a new way to make the other team their prey, and since day one, the Miners have been feasting. To put it in simpler words, they know they’re the best team on the field, and that kind of confidence has been the X-Factor for their entire season. That’s the story numbers don’t tell you. And quite frankly, just numbers and statistics aren’t enough to tell this kind of story. But like I’ve said before, they know they are far from done.
As the playoffs kick off in the near future, the men will be separated from the boys very, very quickly. As outright WYL champions, the Miners will enter postseason play in the driver’s seat. They know they’re a force to be reckoned with, but that kind of mindset can be dangerous. As long as the Miners keep playing like untamed lions, then there aren’t a lot of teams in Division II that can hang with them.
It’s going to be a fun ride with some very good soccer teams. However, the Miners have proven in every way that they’re on another level.
That’s great, keep it that way.