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Cortes is Player of the Year for 2009

Posted Thursday, November 26, 2009 by New Bern Sun Journal Staff

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High-scoring West Craven junior named player of the year

Sun Journal

VANCEBORO — Jaime Cortes can change a game in an instant.

The West Craven junior forward scored four game-winning goals in 2009, leading the Eagles their first-ever winning season. He notched a team-high 29 goals on an offense that ranked second in the Coastal Conference with 89 goals.

Cortes is the Sun Journal boys soccer player of year.

“He is a huge impact player,” said West Craven coach Aaron Steele. “He knows that, but he doesn’t take that for granted. He has started to mature more as a player and as a young man.”

Cortes has scored a school-record 51 goals in his three-year varsity career. He led the Eagles with 14 goals in 2008.

Cortes admitted that he often tried too hard his freshman and sophomore seasons. However, the addition of freshman Lamberto Gomez, who scored 21 goals this fall, helped Cortes develop into a more well-rounded player.

“My first year, I might have been a little selfish and I’d just keep the ball,” Cortes said. “Now I try to use my teammates and pass the ball.”

Among the highlights of 2009: Cortes had a career-high four goals against Southern Wayne, and he scored within the 15 seconds during a match against Goldsboro.

West Craven’s biggest win of the season came against perennial powerhouse White Oak. Cortes scored in the final 20 minutes to secure the 4-2 victory.

“Something in him wanted to win that game,” Steele said. “Sometimes I just know when he is in a zone. He wants the ball (and) calls for it on throw-ins.”

Cortes’ road to success in 2009 started in the months leading up to the fall. He worked on strengthening his right foot and improved his ball-handling skills in the summer.

“He is always yearning to get better,” Steele said. “He knows that he can be near perfect.”

The Columbian-born Cortes moved to the United States following his seventh-grade year.

Since joining the varsity team two years ago, Cortes has gradually helped build the West Craven soccer program.

The Eagles earned their first-ever playoff appearance in 2008 and won a school record 11 matches in 2009.

“I think everything went really well this year,” Cortes said. “For me, this was one of my best years. It was about the whole team working together. It wasn’t just me.”

Adam Thompson can be reached at 252-635-5670 or at athompson@freedomenc.com.

The 2009 Sun Journal soccer team

Jaime Cortes, West Craven

The junior forward is raising the standard for soccer players at West Craven High School. He scored 29 goals, four of which were of the game-winning variety, and finished with seven assists, leading the Eagles to their first-ever winning record, 11-8-1. Cortes will enter his senior year with a school-record 51 goals.

Zach LaHaie, Havelock

LaHaie was a leader on offense for the Rams, tallying six goals and nine assists. The sophomore forward came on strong toward the end of the season, scoring three times in the last two games. Havelock picked up its lone win against West Craven in both team’s season-finale.

Lamberto Gomez, West Craven

West Craven’s freshman forward established himself as a legitimate offensive threat in the 2009 season. Gomez led the team with 14 assists and scored 21 goals, including the game-winner against Washington.

Zack Taylor, New Bern

The senior midfielder made New Bern’s offense operate. He led the Bears in goals (11) and assists (4).

Sasha Seymore, New Bern

Seymore started in all 18 of New Bern’s matches this year and ranked second on the team with 36 shot attempts. The junior midfielder had four goals and two assists.

Robert Sweet, Havelock

Sweet, a junior, was Havelock’s top defender in the midfield, and he also produced a little on offense, providing the Rams with one goal and one assist. Coach Jeff Harris said Sweet was responsible for saving seven goals on the season.

Ra Ma Si, sophomore, New Bern

The New Bern sophomore midfielder emerged as one of the team’s primary offensive weapons. He ranked second on the team in points — behind only Taylor — with five goals and two assists.

Cody Wetherington, West Craven

The senior center fullback was the captain of West Craven’s defense. Eagles coach Aaron Steele said Wetherington provided his teammates with the “tools and the inspiration they needed both on and off the field.” West Craven recorded nine shutouts in 2009.

Marc Canady, New Bern

The senior fullback was the leader of the New Bern defense. Canady started in all 17 games that he played. New Bern’s defense allowed just over one goal a game.

Jordan Mallard, West Craven

The senior co-captain was the starting stopper and center midfielder for the Eagles. West Craven coach Aaron Steele said Mallard “provided stiff defense as a stopper and his ability to switch to offense was instrumental.” Mallard was third on West Craven with 10 goals and seven assists.

Tyler Dill, junior, Havelock

Dill took a beating as Havelock’s goalkeeper. Opponents fired 340 shots his way, and he saved 201 (14.3 per game). 

Honorable Mention:  Robbie Patterson (New Bern), Francisco Cantera (New Bern), Christian Hansen (New Bern), Shayne White (Havelock), Justin Benge (Havelock), Michael Steindl (Havelock), Michael Cauley (West Craven), Joe Valdez (West Craven).

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