PHARR — While goal scorers typically garner headlines, Valley View junior defender Adrian Rodriguez has been a rock for one of the state’s top soccer programs over the past three years.
Manning the back line of the Tigers’ defense, Rodriguez roams with an intensity and refusal to surrender anything easy.
“I like to defend, that’s my passion. I like to cut off plays. I don’t mind that attackers get more cameras and more attention because I like what I’m doing and I know I’m good at that,” Rodriguez said.
In 26 games this season, Rodriguez and the Valley View defense limited opponents to just four games with more than one goal scored. The Tigers also shut out nine different opponents on their way to a 20-3-3 overall mark.
For his play as one of the Rio Grande Valley’s top defenders, Rodriguez is The Monitor’s 2020 All-Area Boys Soccer Defensive Player of the Year.
“To be All-Area Defensive Player of the Year is an honor to me. I feel very proud of myself and my team. Without them, I can’t do anything because they’re the backbone,” Rodriguez said. “They helped me every day, with every training, my coaches and teammates helped me earn this.”
Rodriguez made an immediate impact on the Valley View soccer program as a freshman as he helped lead the Tigers to the 2017-2018 UIL Class 5A boys soccer state tournament with a 31-1 record.
As a sophomore, Rodriguez was named a team captain for a Valley View squad that went back-to-back to reach its second consecutive state tournament.
This season, Valley View was focused on making a third straight appearance in the state tournament, but the 2020 playoffs never got off the ground as the COVID-19 pandemic caused the UIL to cancel spring sports in March.
One thing that never wavers, however, is Rodriguez’s confidence out on the pitch.
“When I go out onto the field, I think, ‘I’m the best. Nobody can pass me.’ I have to cut off their plays, whatever it takes to keep the ball out of our goal,” he said.
“He knows he’s good, but then he goes out there and demonstrates it with the way he practices and the way he plays,” Valley View assistant coach Gerardo Salazar said. “Ever since he got to Valley View, we knew we were going to be solid in the back with the way he plays. He’s a great technician, and he makes other kids better with his leadership.”
Rodriguez will return to Valley View for his senior season in 2020-21 as one of the top players across the Rio Grande Valley as he attempts to lead his team to a third state tournament in three tries.