Roberto Morales and Martin Melendez have played in the same soccer programs for more than a dozen years. Yet they didn’t become friends until last year when they were teammates at Central Cabarrus for the first time.As juniors, Morales, a goalkeeper, and midfielder Melendez helped the Vikings capture their second straight South Piedmont 3A Conference championship. The duo are seeking a three-peat in their final season, understanding they need to provide senior leadership to a youthful team.“We’re optimistic,” Central Cabarrus coach Mike Dye said. “It’s not a rebuilding year, but a repositioning year. We lost a lot of seniors but we still have a good nucleus. We’re trying to find who will fill those roles outside of the nucleus.”Morales was the SPC’s goalkeeper of the year last season when he posted six shutouts and led Central Cabarrus to a 17-5-0 record (11-3 conference). He notched four straight shutouts in league play near the end of the season.Melendez’s two biggest games bookended the Vikings’ SPC schedule. In the league opener at Concord, his goal near the end of regulation and his overtime winner gave Central Cabarrus a thrilling 2-1 victory.Then, on Senior Night, Melendez scored twice in a 3-1 win over Mount Pleasant as the Vikings clinched the conference crown. He finished the year with nine goals and four assists.But their history with one another goes way back to when they were 5 years old. Until age 12, Morales and Melendez played on opposing teams in the Kannapolis Hispanic League.When Morales and Melendez were in middle school, they were both members of the FC Carolina Alliance youth soccer organization, but played on different teams. They also played for rival middle schools: Morales attended C.C. Griffin and Melendez went to J.N. Fries.When they reached high school, Melendez sat out their freshman season, saying that he didn’t know when tryouts were and that he had a broken hand. Morales played on the junior varsity team as a ninth grader.Morales says his coaches never asked him what position he was used to playing and he wasn’t assertive enough to let them know, until the end of the season. He spent most of the year as a defender and played a couple games as goalkeeper.Saying his summer job got in the way of tryouts, Morales didn’t play soccer for Central Cabarrus as a sophomore. On the other hand, Melendez found out when tryouts were and made the varsity team.Last year, when Morales tried out as a junior, Dye remembered him mostly as a defender. The coach was surprised when Morales told him he wanted to play only goalkeeper.Central Cabarrus had an opening and Morales got his wish. He admits to feeling he was in over his head on the varsity team.“I was really, really nervous,” Morales said. “I never played on this level. The first couple of games I don’t think anyone (of his teammates) trusted me. ... I kind of didn’t want to go to the games.”Morales gained confidence after a 2-0 loss to Marvin Ridge. Helping Central Cabarrus stay close to the 3A powerhouse was enough to give him a boost. Two shutouts in a six-day span against J.M. Robinson highlighted the second half of his season.“There were a lot of key moments where he really came up big,” Dye said. “We had so many veteran players that he really didn’t have to step up as a verbal leader but his play spoke volumes.”Dye is expecting Morales and Melendez to take charge of their young team. Melendez is expected to move from midfield to defense, where he will be the most experienced Vikings player.Players to watchKeep your eye on these Cabarrus County high school soccer players this season:
Friday, Aug. 23, 2013
Central Cabarrus soccer squad powered by former opponents
Cabarrus boys soccer Keep your eye on these Cabarrus County high school soccer players this season. Roberto Morales, senior, Central Cabarrus, goalkeeper Martin Melendez, senior, Central Cabarrus, midfielder/defender Jalen Jackson, junior, A.L. Brown, forward Dominick Andrews, Cox Mill, senior, defender Nik Stylianou, Cannon School, senior, midfielder/forward Tony Avila, J.M. Robinson, senior, midfielder Alan Ocejo, J.M. Robinson, senior, midfielder Chris Inman, Hickory Ridge, senior, midfielder James Max Miller, Hickory Ridge, senior, defender
Joe Habina is a freelance writer for Cabarrus News. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at email@example.com.
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