Medina, Lozano make integral contributions in first year as starters
By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor
March 5, 2008 - Defender Victor Medina and forward Cruz Lozano played varsity last season for the Sulphur Springs soccer team, but they didn't become full-time starters until this year. They haven't wasted time, though, in letting their impact be felt.
Lozano is one of the top scorers for the Wildcats, while Medina has been a mainstay on the back defensive row.
They've been an integral part of the Wildcats' run to another playoff berth. The Wildcats, who host Texas High on Thursday, need to win just one of their final four matches to clinch their 14th-straight postseason berth. The Wildcats are currently 8-2 in District 16-4A, 10-5-4 overall.
Of their 19 games, the Wildcats have put up six shutouts, and part of that accomplishment can be attributed to the defensive work of Medina, a former goal keeper who made the switch to the field as a junior, said SSHS head coach Andy Holt.
"Victor's a great team player," Holt said. "He's done whatever he had to do to get on the field this year. He was a goalie his freshman and sophomore years, and his junior year played a little bit of keeper, and then realized it was going to be hard for him to play with Mario (Arellano) in goal.
"So, he transitioned from goalie to field. He worked his tail off in offseason, and he has played a lot of soccer to get himself better in the field. He's started at outside back, and has been a big contributor to our success this year."
Medina said the transition wasn't too difficult because of his experience as a keeper.
"I learned how you're supposed to move back there, and I guess I have some knowledge about how to position yourself," Medina explained. "I guess it was at a point where Mario stepped it up, and I had to drop down. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to play, but I started playing defense this year, and that's where I ended up."
Holt said that Medina, who has been in the soccer program all four years, adapted quickly to the transition to the field, in large part because he dedicated himself in the offseason.
"It's been a good transition for him," Holt said, "and he's probably made it look easier than it really is."
The son of Martina and Luceo Medina, Victor has been playing for 7-8 years with the support of his parents.
"They're always there for me," he said. "They're at the games, doing whatever they can to help."
Lozano, meanwhile, could also be a strong defender, but Holt said the Wildcats needed him on the front row, where he has scored 10 goals and contributed two assists.
Three of his goals have come from beyond 35 yards, earning him the reputation of the little guy with the big leg. Included in his goals was the only one in a 1-0 victory over Paris. He also scored twice in the Wildcats' first game against Mount Pleasant, including a booming goal from 45-50 yards out that somehow made it over the leaping hand of the keeper and below the goal's top rail.
"He's a very versatile player. We put him up front, but he could play in the back for us," Holt said. "I know he plays some back on his club team. We needed him up front, and he's scored some big time goals for us."
Lozano is in his third year with the Wildcats, but didn't play a lot as a junior.
"But, we knew this year, he would be a big contributor, and he has been," Holt added. "Cruz has really stepped in up top and added some speed and quickness and fight. He's got a lot of grit to him."
Lozano said his favorite part of playing is running, and it seems like he's in constant motion. He believes what he does best is control the ball.
"He's like a little cannonball," Holt said. "He's a short, compact player who's fearless."