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West players receive soccer honors

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By Michael Paul, Sports Editor

Five players from the West Brunswick High School boys soccer team and an assistant coach have earned postseason honors.

The N.C. Soccer Coaches Association has selected senior forward John Mendoza to the Class 3-A All-State team.

The NCSCA also selected Mendoza and teammates Chip Mendoza, Chaz Earp and Casey Leonard to the Region 4 Class 3-A team. West’s Steve Nagy was the Assistant Coach of the Year in the region.

The region is divided into 10 areas. Nine public school teams are in Region 4, Class 3-A, and it from those teams West’s all-state and all-region players were selected.

John Mendoza also made All-Mideastern Conference. Logan Tripp was honorable mention.

West coach Trip Smith said John Mendoza deserved the all-state honor.

“He lives with the soccer ball,” Smith said. “Anything he puts his mind to doing he can do. The footwork and technical skills come from the time he’s spent working on it. It’s a never-ending thing. As a soccer player, your touch is crucial to everything you do. Unless you’re around that ball all the time, your touch is never going to be like Johnny Mendoza’s.”

Unoffcially, Mendoza scored 18 goals and had eight assits.

“He has phenomenal touch with the ball,” Smith said. “He can do anything he wants to with it. He’ll juggle it, dribble it, shoot.”

Smith is confident Mendoza will play college soccer.

“He’s a student of the game,” Smith said. “He wants to play at the next level and we’re hoping he is going to get that opportunity.”

Chip Mendoza is a junior forward. Unofficially, he scored 13 goals.

“A hard-working forward,” Smith said. “He never stops. That’s crucial. A lot of times a forward will stand around, but Chip does not do that. He is constantly on the move.”

Even with the high school season over, Chip Mendoza continued to play competitive soccer with a club team—a team mainly of New Hanover players. (New Hanover reached the Class 4-A state championship game this year.)

A highlight for the Mendozas was being able to play together this season.

“I think they had a lot of fun,” Smith said. “It was the first time they had the opportunity to play together on an organized team in a long time.”

Two West defenders made the all-region team: Leonard, a junior at outside right center, and Earp, a junior at defensive midfielder.

“(Casey) struggled the first couple of weeks,” Smith said, “but he picked up his level of play considerably and ended up, by the end of the year, being one of those kids you were just relying on always. We never brought him off the field. He played with a separated shoulder for a while. And at one time we thought he had suffered a broken nose, but he would not come off the field. He’s that type of player.

“He plays with so much heart. He trains so hard. He’s the hardest-training player we have. He’s at game speed when he walks on the practice field.

“(Chaz) is just over the top as far as his progress this year. He and (Casey) progressed at a rate faster than I thought they might.”

Tripp, a senior goalkeeper, was an honorable mention selection in a conference that had two teams reach the state championship game, and that indicates a lot about Tripp’s talent, Smith said.

“Logan was in competition with two guys who competed for state championships this year,” Smith said. “Probably the best goalkeeper in the region plays in our conference at Jacksonville. It’s going to be hard to get noticed in that position, but (Logan) did.”

Smith said he also was glad Nagy received all-region recognition. Nagy is West’s junior varsity coach and assists Smith during varsity games.

“We moved pretty much the entire team from JV to varsity,” Smith said. “And how quickly they got caught up with everybody is a testament to the work he had put in with them as well.”

West reached the third round of the NCHSAA Class 3-A playoffs.

MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at sports@brunswickbeacon.com.