12/23/07 — News-Argus Men's Soccer POY: Alex Rodriguez (C.B. Aycock)

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News-Argus Men's Soccer POY: Alex Rodriguez (C.B. Aycock)

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on December 23, 2007 2:02 AM

Rarely does an athlete garner the praise from a coach as the best player they've ever coached.

Junior Alex Rodriguez, the 2007 News-Argus men's soccer player of the year, isn't most athletes.

In varsity seasons at Charles B. Aycock, Rodriguez has scored 71 goals, has been a part of three Class 3-a Eastern Carolina Conference regular-season and tournament championship clubs and has helped the Golden Falcons compile a record of 50-16-2.

In ECC play with Rodriguez, Aycock has gone 28-2 in the regular season and 6-0 in conference tournament games. The Golden Falcons finished a program best 19-3-1 this season, including an 18-game winning streak that was snapped with a 2-1 loss to Jacksonville in the third round of the state playoffs.

Rodriguez shared the News-Argus Player of the Year award as a freshman with teammate Garrett Davis.

"I've never coached a kid like Alex before," Aycock assistant coach Byron Adkins said. "Alex is a rare talent in Goldsboro. He's probably the best kid I've ever coached in soccer."

Growing up in El Salvador, Rodriguez's love for the game of soccer began to flourish at a young age when he watched his father play. Rodriguez eventually attended a school where he honed his soccer skills before his family moved to Brooklyn and later to Wayne County, which led to his enrollment at C.B. Aycock.

"I was three years old and I saw my dad playing soccer and I fell in love with it," said Rodriguez, who earned ECC player of the year accolades. "I asked him to take me with him to his games. I couldn't play because I was too small.

"Then I went to a school where they taught us how to play. I was there for three years. In El Salvador, soccer is just something we do all year long. We played every day after school. Everything is soccer."

From his magician-like footwork and dribbling skills, lightning fast speed and his uncanny knack to know where teammates are going to be at seemingly all times, Rodriguez is the total package on the soccer field. Even Adkins, and his father Kevin, who serves as the head coach, find themselves constantly in awe of Rodriguez's abilities.

"Whenever he gets on the field he always does something special," Byron said. "I couldn't narrow it down to a couple of things because they're so many. What he does in the game he does in practice. The boys feed off him and they want to get better."

Aside from his wealth of natural talent, perhaps two of Rodriguez's greatest attributes are his relentless work ethic and the ability to make his teammates better. Aside from playing at Aycock, Rodriguez also competes in a local Mexican soccer league with players in their mid to late 20s, and constantly polishes his skills at home.

On the field this season, Rodriguez tallied 33 goals and 24 assists. His ability to find teammates in space, particularly senior Jorge Delgado, helped Aycock's offense score over 100 goals this season.

"Jorge and I used to play together in the Mexican league and we used to be together all the time," Rodriguez said. "We know where each other is going. It's something that when you play with somebody else you get used to it. I'm going to miss him a lot."

In a society in which many young athletes find their time divided between numerous different sports and passions, Rodriguez continues to reap the benefits of being solely devoted, and completely in love with one game, and one game only.

"You have people that play soccer and you have soccer players. Alex is a soccer player," Adkins said. "Everyday he wants to be the best soccer player he can be."