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DADE CITY — Around this time last year, Pasco’s boys soccer team was clicking on all cylinders.
At 14-2-1, not much seemed to be in the way of the Pirates making a deep run in the state playoffs. Then complacency hit the seemingly unbeatable club, as they were downed 2-1 by Wesley Chapel in the Class 4A, District 7 semifinals. The Pirates’s season abruptly ended.
Pasco has vowed to shake off last season’s disappointing finish. The Pirates are a sizzling 14-0, and the incredible chemistry between forwards Orlando Alcocer, Jose Flores and Eric Garcia is evident.
The three have combined for 42 goals — out of a team total 76 — and 22 assists, with each player’s unique style complementing the others. Alcocer, a junior, is more of the facilitator, as seniors Flores and Garcia streak toward the net to score.
“Me and Eric (Garcia) have been playing together since we were 8 years old playing recreation soccer and with Jose (Flores) the past five,” Alcocer said.
“I much prefer to get the assist on a goal than being the one to score. Sometimes we can predict each other’s next move without even saying anything. We have all been working really hard on trying to reach our goal.”
The group’s goal is simple. Reach the state final four, which Pasco hasn’t done since the 2005-06 season behind the likes of Roberto Cervantes, Antonio Corona and Pasco County’s all-time leading goal scorer Jose Montelongo.
Garcia, who leads the team in scoring with 23 goals and has tallied 12 assists, says that he and his teammates look up to Pasco’s past stars and try to duplicate their accomplishments.
And possibly even surpass them.
“A lot of players from that final four team are either our friends or relatives,” Garcia said.
“I look up to Jose Montelongo and see what he’s done as a challenge to make myself better. All of us since our freshman year have talked about getting that state title ring and that’s like all we talk about. We always listen to coach’s saying, ‘Take it one game at a time.’ ”
Coach Barry Grayling sees something rare among the three forwards: depth. They excel wherever they are placed on the field.
“The three are a nice little mold together,” Grayling said. “I didn’t have a lot of depth in the past years, but this year’s team has the depth. The nice thing is I can switch Eric, Orlando or Jose in and out. I told them if they wanted to be the better team on paper then they have to do something that other teams didn’t.
“Win it all.”