Multi-faceted Concord forward is back for more

Osvaldo Arellano is such a versatile soccer player that he once played four positions in one middle school season.

So it's easy to understand Concord coach Matt Bennett's answer when he was asked to identify his fondest memory of Arellano's 2009 season when the forward led the Spiders in scoring.

Bennett, entering his third season as the varsity Spiders coach, remembered inserting Arellano as the goalkeeper on a Northwest Cabarrus penalty kick in overtime of a scoreless game. Arellano stopped the shot and Concord mustered a tie in a critical conference game.

Arellano scored 17 goals last season as Concord advanced to the third round of the state playoffs, winning twice as many playoff games as it had in program history.

The on-field leader of a talented senior class, Arellano and the Spiders hope to make a run at a South Piedmont 3A title.

"I know how to control the ball, and I like to do tricks with the ball," said Arellano. "When I play, I give everything I have. I really like to score."

Arellano did not start playing soccer until he was in seventh grade. That's when his family moved from California, and Arellano started going to Concord Middle. Before that, he had never played on a team.

Playing mostly as a midfielder, Arellano also filled in as a forward, defender and goalkeeper for the Miners. After a second-place finish in seventh grade, Arellano remembers the Miners winning their conference championship the next year, when he settled in as a forward/midfielder.

Arellano played most of his freshman season as a forward on Concord High's junior varsity. Bennett became the team's coach after the start of the season, and toward the end of the campaign, he saw four of his top players, including Arellano, get pulled up to the varsity.

With Bennett as the varsity coach the following year, he employed a 3-5-2 alignment, putting Arellano in the back with two other talented defenders.

"I probably held him back from his potential because of the change to defense," said Bennett. "He and the two other defenders played particularly well together. Nothing got by them."

The Spiders finished 6-13-2, but Arellano and Bennett recognized the team had a bright future.

With capable players like Erwin Bernal, Alejandro Rodriguez and Oran Ossowski anchoring the defense, Arellano was moved back to forward/center-midfield for the 2009 season.

After scoring just four goals as a sophomore defender, Arellano paced the Spiders in goals and added seven assists last season.

On his way to being named all-conference and all-region, Arellano had four multiple-goal games, including hat tricks against Mount Pleasant and Cox Mill.

The Spiders finished 14-8-1 (9-4-1 in the SPC), which was good enough for a third place in the conference.

Seeded in the lower half of the 3A West bracket, Concord played all three of its playoff games on the road.

After a first round 1-0 win at Waddell, Arellano scored two goals in a 4-2 triumph at Statesville. The Spiders then lost 2-0 to eventual state champion Marvin Ridge.

With his prized scorer sitting next to him, Bennett said he would like to see the introverted Arellano be more of a vocal leader this season.

Arellano reluctantly agreed, but don't be surprised if you see his footwork speak loudest..