PHARR — PSJA Southwest’s Yahir Peña isn’t limited to one position. When the Javelinas needed a goal, the junior played at his primary position of striker. Other times, Peña moved to midfielder, allowing him to orchestrate the offense.
No matter where Peña lined up, however, he delivered. Despite a hamstring injury limiting him to just 18 appearances, Peña’s presence was felt on the pitch, tallying 16 goals and 14 assists this season.
For his versatility on the field, Peña is The Monitor’s 2022 All-Area Boys Soccer Utility Player of the Year.
“It feels nice because first I am representing the school and not just the school but also the district. And well, this also helps me if I want to go to college, I have my credentials there to help me go to a better school,” Peña said.
Peña saw all options during the Javelinas’ postseason return after missing out last year, leading PSJA Southwest to a third-place finish in District 31-5A with a 6-3-5 record. Peña finished third in the district in goals scored, accounting for nine of the Javelinas’ 23 district goals.
One of his biggest performances came during a 3-0 victory over Valley View late in the season, notching a goal and assist to hand the Tigers their first and only loss of the season. The victory helped secure third place in district.
“Having players like this where you can play them on top or in the back, it’s good to have,” PSJA Southwest head coach Juan Rodriguez said. “You attack the opponent’s weaknesses with what we have in him. When we’re in regular play, he’s at the top. If we’re losing ground in the middle, we bring him inside and he stills delivers. That’s just a great thing to have.”
Peña’s soccer IQ helped him excel where needed this season, with his head coach describing him as his “eyes on the field.” He credits his head coach for his understanding of the game.
“My coach (Juan Rodriguez) has helped me a lot,” Peña said. “He has taught me things that I didn’t see before when I just started school. Now I see it and what I can do. The choices I can make, there is always a play to make. But there is also always a better option.”
His strong understanding of the game and leadership earned him team captain responsibilities since he first stepped onto the pitch as a freshman.
With Peña back for his fourth year as the team’s captain, expectations are high for the Javelinas’ upcoming season.
“We have a very good team but he’s the cherry on top,” Rodriguez said. “Once you bring him in, he makes the whole team. They expect him to be there. They look for him and he’s my other eyes on the field. We’re on the sideline coaching and everything else is him. We already know. Our game plan, he knows it. He’s our captain, our guide on the field.
“We just expect a lot of things from him. We set our goals for next year high now that we got a feel for the playoffs. Next year, we should be right there.”