Both teams are expected to have talent in a championship game. What really sets apart the champion is their mentality.
Maize South’s team-first, unselfish mentality, along with its ability to “give up the good to get the great,” played a key role in the team’s 3-0 win over Valley Center in the final game of the MSHS Invitational.
“They’re a very unselfish group,” Maize South coach Rey Ramirez said. “Even if it meant they were going to sacrifice their goal scoring opportunities or their assists, they weren’t worried about their stats, they were worried about their team stats.”
Ramirez credits his 10 seniors for implementing the unselfish playing style in the rest of the team.
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“(The seniors) have the team mentality where it’s, ‘We first,’ not, ‘Me first,’ ” Ramirez said. “I think it just rubbed off on everybody.”
Tournament MVP Andrew Bliss bought into the selfless mindset. He believes a team cannot have any mobility without it.
“Soccer is a sport where it’s fun to have one good player where you always go to but you’re not going to get anywhere with that one good player,” Bliss, a senior, said. “You need to play as a team instead of one guy trying to do it all. “
The Mavericks’ patience on offense also sets Maize South apart from its opponents. That was especially evident in the championship win over Valley.
“I think that being clinical and choosing our opportunities to go forward helped us. We didn’t force anything,” Ramirez said. “When teams are a little too excited, a little too anxious to score they get further and further from that goal.”
Raul Gerhardus, the sophomore who scored the Mavericks’ first goal of the game, demonstrated both unselfishness and patience in establishing Maize South’s second goal. Every offensive player but one got a touch on the ball before junior Bryce Bowman scored.
“We practice communication a lot and just playing as a team,” Gerhardus said. “Our team chemistry is great; we’ve improved it since the beginning of the season.”
Maize South held a 2-0 lead throughout the first half and 35 minutes into the second. At the five-minute mark, junior James Evans hit a 20-yard goal to get the Mavericks up three.
Valley failed to finish a shot on goal as Maize South won the MSHS Invitational Championship for the second year in a row.
“It means a lot winning this tournament and getting to defending our home turf,” Bliss said.
Ramirez knows that this championship win will give the team the confidence needed heading into the rest of the season.
“It gives us that great confidence and gives us a little bit more belief in ourselves,” Ramirez said. “Going into the season, we knew that we had a lot of the right pieces that needed to be in place in order to be successful. I think that now that it’s actually happening, it’s becoming a reality instead of just an idea.”