McGraw, Becerra fill roles for Holt
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

March 5, 2004 -- With more than 15 players on his varsity squad, Sulphur Springs soccer coach Andy Holt has a deep and experienced bench -- and he relies on it.

Specifically, Clay McGraw and Miguel Becerra are a pair of seniors who Holt says fit into the team concept by coming in as reserves to spark the Cats.

"Clay and Miguel are both coming off the bench this year. They've taken that role, and they understand that's what they need to do," Holt said. "They have both been on varsity the past two years, and they both have a good work ethic. They both come to practice ready to work.

"They're uplifting spirits, too. They always have a good attitude, always positive, and they're great teammates to have. That's important -- you need that on a good team."

Becerra scored a goal in the Wildcats' 10-0 win over Liberty-Eylau on Monday and McGraw chipped in an assist. They both have been solid in their roles as the Wildcats have compiled a 16-6-1 record, 9-1 in District 14-4A.

They both play at right outside mid, though McGraw is more of a utility player, filling in at stopper and center mid as well.

"I can put those guys in the game and not worry about a drop in performance," Holt said. "They both know the game of soccer really well."

That's part of what makes McGraw so valuable because he can fill in at several positions.

"You have to be aware of what's going on. You can't just think of one thing and do it," McGraw said of his versatility. "You have to look around and know where you are and what your responsibilities are.

"If you know what's going on, you can do pretty well without thinking too much. You need to rely on your instincts."

At center mid, McGraw said he has to talk more and distribute the ball accurately. On the outside, he has to be ready to get back on defense or make a long run up the sideline when the Cats push the ball offensively.

Becerra plays the outside right position, but he has been trying to overcome a pulled quad muscle he initially injured in a tryout in Mexico during the summer.

The injury limits how much he can play, but hasn't diminished his skill level, Holt said.

"Miguel does a good job of getting in the mix and beating players one-on-one. He's good at controlling the ball. It's just a matter of getting healthy enough to play," Holt said. "He hasn't had time to rest. On one of those deals, you need time to rest, but you can't do that in the middle of the season or it'll be over before you get fully healthy.

"When you have a knot just sitting on top of your leg like that, it's something you have to battle through. You can tell on his face when he starts hurting, but he goes when he can as hard as he can."

Becerra has played in Mexico, where he said the game is more defensive.

"There's a lot more control, a lot more possessive in Mexico, and it's a lot more defensive," he said. "You possess it in the back, not in the front. You only make runs when you know you can.

"I like the style over here better, because I like being able to score a lot better."

Both McGraw and Becerra have scored points with Holt, who believes in good chemistry as well as good players.

"What you've got to have on a good team is players who know their roles and will step in and do their roles and not complain and not argue," Holt said. "These guys have fulfilled their roles very well and done it with a good attitude.

"Both these guys are really good teammates."

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