• Important Dates -->
  • 5/17: Rocky awards
  • 5/20: All School Awards (virtual)
  • 5/22: Region Track Champs
  • 5/23: Band Concert
  • 5/28: Orchestra Concert
  • 5/29: Chorus Concert
  • 6/4: Miscast Caberet
  • 6/6: Capstone Gala
The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School

THE BLAZE

The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School

THE BLAZE

The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School

THE BLAZE

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Sophomore Soccer Stars Step Up to the Pitch

Sophomore varsity soccer players Diego Pinto Vazquez, Enzo Gomes, and Arjav Iyer reflect on their experiences with the Phoenix boys soccer team so far and the path yet to come for their athletic careers.
Sophomores+Enzo+Diego+Pinto+Vazquez%2C+Enzo+Gomes%2C+and+Arjav+Iyer+on+the+pitch+against+the+Loudoun+Valley+Vikings+on+Apr+25%2C+2024.
Fran Rodriguez
Sophomores Enzo Diego Pinto Vazquez, Enzo Gomes, and Arjav Iyer on the pitch against the Loudoun Valley Vikings on Apr 25, 2024.

Sophomores Diego Pinto Vazquez, Enzo Gomes, and Arjav Iyer are the youngest players on the Phoenix boys soccer team. Although they’re playing club soccer at the same time, they find the school soccer team has more practice and improvement to offer them for their respective travel teams. 

Meet Goalkeeper Diego Pinto Vazquez: 

Pinto was born in Mexico, a country well known for having passionate soccer fans and players all over the world. “I’ve been playing for probably 11 years,” Pinto said. “I don’t know why I started playing, I just kind of started and played ever since I was little with my brother.” This is not uncommon in Mexico and many other countries in the same region. Children grow up playing a sport that’s very inclusive, where the street becomes the field and kids need only a ball to play. “It’s really fun and amazing, especially since all of my friends are here,” Pinto said. “We all have the same mentality to play, to win and to be competitive.” 

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He loves representing his school in games and always does his best to keep the ball out of his net. To do so, he’s always watching the team’s formation from his perspective and telling his teammates when he sees opponents or spaces that are not covered. 

Pinto looks up to many professional players to improve his own game as well. Manuel Neuer, the Bayern Munich and German national team goalie, is the player he looks up to the most. For as long as he can remember, he’s been watching and studying Neuer play, trying to mimic and copy his style. “He’s my number one idol,” Pinto said. “I like everything about him, like his technique and especially his one-on-ones,” Pinto said. 

In addition to playing for the Phoenix boys soccer team, Pinto is the goalie for a Loudoun-based club. This allows him to train daily to become a better goalie. “If you want to be varsity, you have to be dedicated and committed,” Pinto said. “Show up to the practices, and do your best in both games and practices.” 

Meet Center-back Enzo Gomes: 

Gomes was born and raised in Brazil until he was nine, then he moved to the United States. Brazil is known for having some of the best players of all time, including Ronaldinho Gaucho, Ronaldo Nazario, Edson Arantes do Nascimiento (Pele), Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, and many others. Brazil has five FIFA World Cups to their name, the most any team has ever had. Brazil is also known for having “street” players, and that’s exactly what Gomes was when he was younger. “I remember playing in the streets with random kids and my brother,” Gomes said. “It was always super fun. I also remember making soccer balls out of socks or clothes by rolling them up.” 

Gomes also plays club soccer in addition to the school soccer team. Even though there is a skill and competitive gap between both levels, Gomes still finds playing both fun. “I’ve been playing soccer since probably six or seven,” Gomes said. “and that’s just been my life ever since.” To him, playing with kids in Brazil is like  “playing with music on.” Apart from having fun and playing with his friends, Gomes joined the team because he wanted to represent his school and play his hardest. “It obviously feels good to play here and great to lead the team,” Gomes said. 

His inspiration for soccer is Cristiano Ronaldo. “He’s really just an inspiration to me and many other people across the world,” Gomes said.” In his position, he also looks up to Sergio Ramos. Gomes “copies” Ramos’ aggressiveness on the pitch, and he’s the reason he plays as a defender. “He’s aggressive, fierce, and never afraid to put a foot on the ball,” Gomes said. “He’s what made me want to defend.” Apart from playing for the Phoenix, Gomes also currently plays for MLS Next team SYC, or Springfield Youth Club. High school soccer forces him to play against older and bigger players, which in return, helps him improve for when he has to play for his club team. To get to where he is now, Gomes credits his work ethic and drive.  “Keep your mind on something, cut out distractions and focus on that one thing — if you want it that bad, nobody can stop you from getting it,” Gomes said. 

Meet Left-back Arjav Iyer: 

Iyer was selected for varsity two years in a row, as a freshman and as a sophomore. “As the only freshman, it felt taunting seeing all the juniors and seniors looking down at you,” Iyer said. “But after a couple weeks, I got settled in and it was pretty good.” Seeing how big the other players were was almost “scary,” for Iyer, but after a while he got used to it and embraced the challenge.

“I’ve been playing club soccer since second grade, so I’ve always had a love for it,” Iyer said. “Playing for my school makes it even better, especially playing with my closest friends. My dad always pushed me to play a sport, and then [I tried] soccer, and it just clicked.” 

Iyer supports Premier League team Arsenal, so he’s been looking up to Ben White as a role model. “Right now, obviously as an Arsenal fan, I’ve been looking up to Ben White, and just in general, the real G.O.A.T. Messi,” Iyer said. Iyer advises younger players to always play the position they actually play and like, not so much what the coaches say. “Just always do what you want, keep going and don’t stop until you make it, and make sure to play the position you want and what you’re good at,” Iyer said. 

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About the Contributors
Fran Rodriguez
Fran Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Francisco Rodriguez is a freshman staff writer for The Blaze, and it is his first year on staff. He wanted to join the school newspaper because he saw a particular interest in the class and likes reading about current events as well as keeping up with the news. Although temporarily injured, Francisco loves playing soccer, being with his family and friends, relaxing on his phone, and listening to music in his free time. If he could ever give himself advice, he would tell himself to talk more and to ask more questions to help him grow.
Sam Cho
Sam Cho, Staff Writer
Sam Cho is a senior in his first year on the Newspaper staff. He decided to join because he wanted to become a part of a new source at Rock Ridge. As of right now, Cho is part of the SCA, where he helps organize events such as prom, pep rallies, and homecoming. He is part of the lacrosse team as a long stick middie. He is looking forward to graduating and attending college and studying Public Health. Cho also enjoys playing basketball with friends and maintaining his reselling business in his free time. “I believe that a key to newspaper, from what I’ve seen so far, is to be more open to new people and be more active in finding resources,” Cho said.

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