CLOSER LOOK: Norte Vista’s Ed Barcenas

Senior Eduardo Barcenas led Riverside Norte Vista to a 1-0 victory over Colton on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011, to win the 22nd annual Tom Tilson Holiday Classic. / Dennis Pope Photography

Take a closer look at Riverside Norte Vista senior MF Eduardo Barcenas and you’ll see one of the strongest possessors of the ball in the Inland Area.

Barcenas and the ball were practically inseparable during the championship game of the Tom Tilson Holiday Classic on Tuesday, dispossessed exactly zero times while completing 24 of 29 pass attempts.

He was the Braves’ midfield maestro as the team secured a 1-0 victory and with it, the No. 8 spot in this week’s Inland Area Prep Soccer Top 10.

I caught up with Barcenas immediately following the game, and asked him the significance of Norte Vista’s early-season success.

“To be honest, since my freshman year we’ve had trouble in this tournament. We haven’t been able to get out of our pool, and this year I guess all the hard work we’ve put in since August, day-in and day-out, coming out to practice 100-percent, ’cause that’s where it all starts. The hard work pays off here,” Barcenas said.

This team is starting to make a name for itself. You won the Norte Vista HS Tournament, and now you’ve won this tournament. How do you think the season is shaping up going into the holiday break?

“I think we deserve a short vacation right now but not too long ’cause we’ve got to come out here, keep working hard and get what we really want, which is league. And then we’ll see how far we make it in CIF.”

What’s it going to take to win the Sunkist League?

“This kind of performance. No let-downs. Staying strong on defense ’cause there’s good teams out there, and finishing the chances we create.”

What about the role you’ve accepted for this team?

“I’ve been here on varsity since freshman year. I’ve worked hard ever since, and finally got up here to be a captain. Trying to keep the team together, and just being the leader in there. A lot of communication, which is key to this game, and just being there to support everybody, keeping everybody motivated.”

What’s it going to get to the playoffs and make a long playoff run?

“At the end of the day, it’s putting the ball in the back of the net.”

Ah, putting the ball in the back of the net. It sounds so simple yet it’s a feat the best teams in the world do just well enough.

For Coach Matthew Beliveau, Norte Vista’s chances start with Barcenas.

“He’s been with us for four years. He’s smooth. He’s crafty. He knows what I want from him. I can make demands on him and he’ll perform. That’s why he’s the leader of our team,” Beliveau said.

Other players may do the majority of goal-scoring for the Braves, but it’s Barcenas who sets it all up with his masterful possession and timely passing.

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