Moriarty High School incoming freshman Isaac Dominguez, the presumptive starting goalkeeper for the Pintos’ varsity soccer team, reached and dove as shot after shot came at him like a barrage of cannonballs.
It was a pass-and-shoot drill near the end of a recent summer workout.
Dominguez’ teammates took turns receiving a pass and then shooting from about 10 yards out while he tried to make the save.
Dominguez, wearing large black, red, and blue gloves that could pass for oven mitts, tried his best to stop each shot. “I had to, like, really get on my game,” Dominguez said. Some of the shots he snared. Others got past him as he tumbled to the ground.
“I was having fun trying to predict where they would go, so it was overall a good time,” Dominguez said. He then focused his thoughts on the uncertainty of the upcoming season.
“I’m really hoping there is one, but if there’s not—” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “Just gotta keep practicing hard, just take it step by step.”
Moriarty’s boys’ soccer team recently started its summer workouts under the New Mexico Activities Association’s return-to-play guidelines. As the group was wrapping up one of its workouts this week, head coach Jordan Allcorn circled his players while maintaining social distancing and explained that the fall season is up in the air.
“Basically, where we stand is, there’s still a lot of unknowns,” Allcorn told his team. “We’re considered a higher-risk, contact sport like football. We may not start in August, it may be later.”
Dominguez and several other Pintos who participated in this week’s workouts shared various sentiments about the season. Some are unsure, others are skeptical, but for the most part, all are hopeful.
Isaac Sibley, a junior at Estancia Valley Classical Academy who plays for the Pintos, said, “Well, I hope to have a season, as normal as possible, but I also don’t wanna do anything to put anybody else at risk, so…”
Sibley’s brother, Eric Sibley, a freshman at EVCA, said, “I’m kind of not expecting the season cuz of what’s going on.”
“I don’t really think that the coronavirus is very serious, so I think we should continue,” sophomore James Bentley said, adding, “I have a couple cousins who have had the coronavirus and they didn’t even notice till it was gone or they only noticed a tiny bit but they wouldn’t have gone to the doctor for it, so, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
Following the workout, Allcorn said he doesn’t think the season can happen in the fall if the schools are not open at 100 percent. He said a lot of things have been talked about, but because high school sports are extracurricular, the team can’t do anything that differs from the classroom makeup.
“If the expectation is 50 percent, then we can’t compete with half our kids,” Allcorn said, adding that he thinks soccer games could possibly happen after the winter sports season concludes.
“It’s looking like our season will be in 2021,” Allcorn said. “Basically, what they’ve said is, there will be a season, we just don’t know when.”
For now, the team is getting together twice a week with two separate sessions each day while meeting the requirements of the NMAA’s guidelines.
During the sessions, Allcorn and assistant coach Aaron Romero supervise two pods with no more than five players in each. The players work on individual skills and fitness, and then perform limited passing and shooting drills—and no one can use their hands during the workouts except the goalkeeper.
Despite the limitations of the NMAA’s guidelines, Allcorn said he and his players are excited to be back.
“This is the opportunity we have right now, to mentor them in this fashion—even if it’s not fully normal, it’s a step in the right direction,” Allcorn said.
Dominguez, who shared varsity goalkeeper duties last year as an eighth-grader, said, “It feels amazing to be back cuz you have your teammates with you, and you get to have your coaches tell you what to do and you actually have people shooting on you.”
“I really like it, I like to push myself,” sophomore Aaron Buck said. “I’m really glad to be out here, doing what we can to stay fit.”
“I’m having a lot of fun and I feel a lot more in shape, it’s really helping,” Bentley said.
Eric Sibley, who hasn’t played soccer since AYSO several years ago, said, “This is like the first real soccer team I’ve been on, so it’s great, it’s a lot better.”
“We just have to practice like we’re gonna have a normal season,” Isaac Sibley added. “Coach Allcorn said he doesn’t want a bunch of coach potatoes.”
“I really don’t know what’s gonna happen,” Allcorn said. “Whether we play or not, we can be a positive light for them in very uncertain times—just being out here gives us that opportunity.”