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Cortes Getting His Kicks!

Posted Thursday, September 16, 2010 by Kevin Travis, New Bern Sun Journal

Cortes getting his kicks

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West Craven senior has 34 goals

Sun Journal

VANCEBORO – Draped by two South Central players, Jaime Cortes was seemingly playing keep-away from the Falcons’ defenders. The West Craven senior was dribbling the ball down the field.

Suddenly, in a flash, Cortes was gone.

The Colombian native put it into second gear, sprinting away from the defenders and opening himself up for a shot. The South Central goalkeeper didn’t stand much of a chance, as Cortes blasted the ball with authority into the back of the net.

That’s been the norm for Cortes this season, who chalked up five goals in Tuesday’s 6-1 win over South Central in the Coastal Conference opener. It was the second straight game Cortes netted five goals.

He now has 34 goals this season and 85 in his career.

“I just do what I have to do,” said Cortes, who credits his speed with helping him have so much success as a scorer. “I have some really good soccer players on my team, like Beto (Lamberto Gomez), who give me a lot of assists.”

West Craven coach Aaron Steele said Cortes has matured as a person and as a player, which has helped him on the field.

“As a senior, he responds to everything you tell him,” Steele said. “He made the move that I wanted him to (in Tuesday’s game against South Central) and it led to a goal. Jaime always says, ‘okay, I got you, coach.’

“He knows that I know what I’m seeing (on the field). He believes in that and he believes in the whole team system.”

Cortes, last year’s Sun Journal Player of the Year, has scored five goals twice this season and four goals four other times. In total, Cortes has recorded eight hat tricks (three goals) in nine games.

It’s not just about Cortes’ speed. He also has a powerful leg. Cortes drilled a 20-yard rocket and drove home a 30-yard boot in the win against the Falcons.

“He has the special tools that make him the killer player,” Steele said. “It’s the fact that he listens to what his coaches are asking for and what he then sees on the field because we have an eye advantage that he doesn’t see.”

Cortes is more interested in wins than goals.

“It’s not about the goals,” said Cortes, who noted his favorite soccer players to follow are Spaniard Fernando Torres, who plays club ball at Liverpool, and Argentina striker Lionel Messi, who plays for FC Barcelo.

“It’s about going far in the playoffs. It’s going to take teamwork. We have to pass the ball, talk to each other and be good teammates.”

Cortes said the highlight of the season came in 3-0 wins over Dixon and Croatan during the Battle of the Beach Tournament, even though Cortes scored just once in those two games.

“They were two very tough teams,” Cortes said. “I didn’t think we’d be able to do it, but we did it. That gave us a lot of confidence because those are two very good teams. It gave me a lot of confidence. I know we can go far this season.”

Steele said Cortes choosing those games as highlights speaks volumes about his character.

“That just shows you what kind of kid he is,” Steele said. “He only scored the one goal, but that just shows he’s a team player. It shows he’s really matured.”

The flashy senior, who has already surpassed last year’s total in goals (29) by five, has helped the Eagles get off to a 9-0 overall start, and 1-0 start in conference play. West Craven is ranked 10th in the latest 3-A N.C. Soccer Coaches Association poll. That doesn’t mean much to Cortes.

“I kind of ignore it,” Cortes said. “I try not to pay attention to it because that would just put more pressure on us.”

Cortes is hoping his soccer playing days won’t be over after high school. He’s hoping a college team will give him a chance.

“That would be great,” Cortes said. “If I could, I would like to do that.”

Steele isn’t sure why Cortes isn’t getting any offers at the moment.

“I don’t know why college coaches aren’t knocking at the door,” Steele said. “When you knock in 29 goals (in his junior season) and you have his talent level, (you expect that).

“He just loves the game. He loves to play.”

For now, Cortes plans to enjoy playing the game he adores.

“We haven’t lost a game yet,” Cortes said. “It’s been going pretty good. I’m having a lot of fun.”

Kevin Travis can be reached at 252-635-5669 or at ktravis@freedomenc.com.


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