The Chicago Post Tribune recently published their annual All-Area team selections for boys high school soccer in Northwest Indiana. Among the very talented players selected in the first and second teams, two of our very own Pioneers were rewarded for their accomplishments this past season. Senior midfielder Rafael Maciel made the All-Area First Team and Senior forward Marco Medina made the second team. This was the first time since 2017 that a soccer player from Clark made the All-Area team, when Alejandro Lopez, the program’s all-time leading goal scorer with 80 goals, made the team.
Maciel had a stellar season. He was first captain of the team and he led the Pioneers to a spectacular 13-3-1 overall record. He managed to assist on 25 goals. This statistic was good enough to lead the area, and more impressively, it earned him the honors of placing second in the entire state in total assists. Along with the 5 goals he scored, he managed to earn a total of 35 points in the season! Maciel leaves Clark leading the all-time assists category with 67 total assists. He also scored a total of 25 goals through four seasons playing in the Varsity team, earning 117 total points. He placed First Team All-Area for the Fall 2019 soccer season.
“Rafael was simply on fire all season long! He was one of the most influential players on and off the field. He was a very important player for us. He was the only Freshman in his class playing Varsity soccer, and he became a captain in his Sophomore year. That detail alone will tell you exactly what kind of player he really is: a true leader. I admire how he carried himself and how he always put the team ahead of him. Coaches always told me I had a special player on my team in him. He is such a fantastic player, and we all expect him to accomplish big things when he reaches the college level.”
Medina was excellent in his Senior year of high school soccer. He scored 25 goals and assisted on 10, totaling up to a staggering 60 points in a single season! His 25 goals were good enough to place him in the Top 25 for most goals scored in all of Indiana. At one point in the season, Medina scored in 8 consecutive matches, including 2 hat-trick games! Medina leaves the soccer program at Clark as the third all-time goal scorer with a total of 53 goals, topping his own coach’s record of 47 goals (2012) and falling behind Jorge Garcia’s 63 (2016) and Alejandro Lopez’s 80 (2017). He assisted on 24 goals through four years of Varsity soccer. His total points were 130. He earned a placement in the All-Area Second Team for the Fall 2019 soccer season.
“Marco is a clinical striker who is lethal in front of the goal. There is no stopping him on a break away play, and when he is one on one against the goalkeeper, it’s almost a guaranteed outcome that the ball will end up in the back of the net. He was phenomenal in his senior year. He became a team captain midway through the season and he simply led the team’s offense. The statistics speak for themselves. He will be a great asset to any college program that picks him up.”
The Pioneers were ranked as high as 6 in the Post Tribune Rankings. For the first time in school history, the team made the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association (ISCA) Top 20 ranking list, placing number 20 in 3 consecutive weeks. The Pioneers capped off an incredible season as split GLAC Conference champions, the first time since 2015. Maciel and Medina were true leaders of the team, and they set a pathway for one final season at Clark that is expected for a deep push in the state tournament next year. The Pioneers will be playing their last ever soccer season in 2020, as they will consolidate into a new high school in Hammond in 2021.
What does it mean to you to make an All-Area Team?
Maciel: Making the First Team All-Area for the Chicago Post Tribune meant everything to me. It was the first time I ever made an all area team. To earn a spot in the first team made it even more of an accomplishment for me. I was very excited when I saw my name in the list and I was also relieved to see that my hard word during the season was recognized.
Medina: Making the Second Team All-Area means so much to me. I’m extremely proud of myself. I put a lot of work into this season and it finally paid off. I could not make it where I am without the support from my family, friends, teammates, and coaches. They believed in me and pushed me to the best of my ability and I’m beyond grateful for that. Being top 25 in state for the most goals is an amazing feeling. It opened new opportunities for me and I can’t wait for what the future holds for me in my soccer career.
Describe your journey here as a student-athlete at Clark. How has the soccer program helped you grow?
Maciel: Looking back at my four years at Clark and my journey with the soccer team, I can honestly say it was an experience like no other and I am extremely grateful for what the soccer program at Clark gave to me. This program has given me the confidence, leadership skills, and passion that shaped me into the player and the person I am today. Also, these four years haven given me another family. I’ve made many relationships, close friends, and brothers all within this program which I call my family.
Medina: Looking back from my freshman year to now, the experience of me being able to play 4 years of high school soccer for Clark was a drastic experience. It was not easy for me my freshman year. I was not always a varsity player. I started off as a JV player. It was hard for me because that’s not where I wanted to be. I knew I could become a varsity player. So I told and pushed myself that I have to work extremely hard to get into shape and be the best player I can be for myself and my teammates. After dedicating my self to the sport I love and enjoy, I finally made it to varsity. It was not easy getting here today, but I made it possible and I’m extremely proud of myself. The Clark high school soccer team changed me completely. My teammates made it very comfortable for me to be part of this journey. My teammates became family to me and I’m beyond proud to have played ball with them.
What was your greatest accomplishment these past 4 years of playing soccer at Clark?
Maciel: The greatest accomplishment of my four years here definitely has to be my senior season as a whole. Many great things came from this season for our team and I also had a great individual season. We had one of the best records Clark has had in a while for soccer, we were ranked top 20 in the state which was the first time for Clark soccer, we split and won conference for the first time in a couple of years, I broke the school’s record for most assists with 67, and Marco and I made the all area teams. Overall, my senior season was definitely my greatest accomplishment here.
Medina: My greatest accomplishment in my four years of high school ball was making it to the top 25 in state for most goals. Another accomplishment is my teammates and I being conference champs this year during my four years of playing high school soccer.
What advice can you give for next season? Now that Clark will be playing its final season next year, what are some tips you can give to future student-athletes?
Maciel: Some advice for all students and athletes who will attend Clark for its last year as a school is to have pride in your school and not to take your last year for granted. Make the most out of your last year, attend as many events and games as you can, and most importantly win was many titles you can this last year.
Medina: Advice I want to give to players that will be able to play for Clark high school one last year is that hard work truly pays off. If you have a goal set in mind do not think it is impossible to achieve. Hard work and determination is everything not just in soccer but in your everyday life. Clark will be closing next year, so to my teammates – don’t take it for granted playing on Clark’s soccer field. Cherish the time you have in the school and on the field. You will always cherish the practices, all the running, the bus rides; everything becomes part of you and your memory so don’t take it for granted. Cherish the moment and work hard to win the sectional title.