WRITER’S NOTE: The Monitor’s all-area superlative award winners and teams are selected by AIM Media’s staff writers with input from coaches. The Monitor’s coverage area spans from Mercedes to Roma.


Player of the Year: Rey Cantu, Hidalgo

5A/6A Player of the Year: Edward Morales, Sharyland High

Offensive Player of the Year: Omar Solis, La Joya Juarez-Lincoln

Defensive Player of the Year: Gabriel Ordonez, Hidalgo

Utility Player of the Year: Vicente Alvarez, McAllen High

Goalkeeper of the Year: Sergio Castaneda, Hidalgo

Newcomer of the Year: Gael Guerra, McAllen High

Co-Coaches of the Year: Esteban Alegria and Zeke Morales, Hidalgo


All-Area First Team: Kevin Zepeda, Sharyland High; Ever Arredondo, Valley View; Peter Yanez, Valley View; Joaquin Rosales, Hidalgo; Juan Roque, Alamo IDEA; Rene Galvan, Edinburg Economedes; Adrian Medina, Edinburg IDEA Quest; Anthony Nava, Hidalgo; Erik Obregon, Edinburg Economedes; Carlos Martinez, Valley View; Miguel Campos, La Joya Juarez-Lincoln

All-Area Second Team: Jesus Martinez, Edinburg North; Leo Salinas, McAllen High; Christian Castillo, Pharr IDEA; Nicolas Gonzalez, La Joya Palmview; Yahir Pena, PSJA Southwest; Adrian Alvarez, McAllen Rowe; Gerardo Soto, Vanguard Rembrandt; Lazaro Lozano, Vanguard Rembrandt; Reynaldo Trevino, Hidalgo; Manuel Gomez, Progreso; Diego Rodriguez, Mission High

Player of the Year: Rey Cantu, Hidalgo

Hidalgo’s Rey Cantu is The Monitor’s 2023 All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

5A/6A Player of the Year: Edward Morales, Sharyland High

McALLEN — Sharyland High’s boys soccer team entered the 2023 season with high expectations, returning several key players from the previous year’s regional semifinal appearance.

The Rattlers team received an additional boost following the arrival of RGV FC Academy transfer Edward Morales for his senior year.

Morales did not disappoint during his one year at Sharyland High, orchestrating a dominant Rattlers offense, which averaged 4.6 goals per contest during district play.

He is The Monitor’s 2023 All-Area Boys Soccer 5A/6A Player of the Year.

Sharyland High’s Edward Morales is The Monitor’s All-Area Boys Soccer 5A/6A Player of the Year. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

“It was a surprise getting this award,” Morales said. “I didn’t expect to get that text message saying I won this award. It is a nice feeling. It is nice to see the hard work has paid off and that it is recognized. I take it with an applause, and it is time to move on.”

Things weren’t always smooth sailing for Morales and the Rattlers when he arrived on campus, with the team learning to play together and find their roles within the system.

Once Morales found his, he took off, serving as the cog that moved the Rattlers’ offensive machine. The Creighton signee ran the offense like a symphony, finding his teammates for a team-high 25 assists.

Morales did more than find his teammates, flashing his own ability to finish the play with 16 goals.

“It is all a blur, honestly,” Morales said. “I try to tell people to slow down, but everything just happens so fast. It is just natural to me at this point. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s like chess. You just know where everybody is going to be at. As long as you’re thinking before you get the ball, you’ll be fine. It is mainly just thinking about the situation we were in. Every time we touched the field, we wanted to do well. There was a goal in mind at all games. It was just easy to find the rhythm and find everyone. It was more than just me. It was a whole team effort.”

With Morales and the Rattlers’ offense finding its groove, Sharyland High marched through District 31-5A play with a 12-1-5 mark, earning a share of the district crown.

The Rattlers finished the year as one of two RGV teams to make it to the state tournament, advancing to the Class 5A state semifinals before bowing out. Morales was at the center of the Rattlers’ run, coming up with timely assists and goals for his squad.

“We all knew what we had and what we were capable of,” Morales said. “We just had to keep working at it. At the beginning of the season we didn’t know who we were, but we knew we had a lot of talent. It was just a matter of putting in the hard work and time. It all came together down the stretch.”

Offensive Player of the Year: Omar Solis, La Joya Juarez-Lincoln

La Joya Juarez-Lincoln’s Omar Solis had a knack for finding the back of the net during his junior year.

From penalty kicks to free kicks, to simply beating his defender, Solis almost always found a way to get his name in the box score.

The Huskies’ striker averaged 2.4 goals per contest en route to a 33-goal district season, the No. 3 mark in the RGV this year. His dominant offensive showing guided the Huskies to their seventh straight district title and earns him The Monitor’s 2023 All-Area Boys Soccer Offensive Player of the Year award.

La Joya Juarez-Lincoln’s Omar Solis is The Monitor’s All-Area Boys Soccer Offensive Player of the Year. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

“I feel emotional after winning this award,” Solis said. “This motivates me to keep working harder and be even better next season.”

Slowing down Solis during district play was an impossible task, finding pay dirt at least once during each of the Huskies’ 14 games.

Among those games were 10 in which featured Solis scoring twice or more, including four games with three or more.

Solis carried his district dominance into the postseason, opening the playoffs with a brace against Corpus Christi Ray to help secure the 7-1 bi-district victory.

He brought his playoff total to three during the area round against McAllen High, netting the game-winner during the final minutes of the 1-0 victory.

“Since I was little, I have admired Leo Messi,” Solis said. “I always imagined playing like him, and that motivates me to play the same way on the field. I see him and the way he scores and plays he makes. It just speaks to me.”

The Huskies’ season ended in the Region IV-5A quarterfinal round, falling 1-0 to Brownsville Lopez in overtime. The game marked the first time Solis was held off the board in more than two months.

Solis returns for one final year with the Huskies next season, eyeing another 30-goal season and a deep playoff run.

Defensive Player of the Year: Gabriel Ordonez, Hidalgo

Finding paydirt against the Hidalgo Pirates this past season proved to be a difficult task, allowing just eight goals in 14 district contests and just seven scores in the postseason.

Anchoring the Pirates’ juggernaut defense was towering defender Gabriel Ordonez. The Pirates’ senior erased whole parts of the field with his physical play, making it hard to get within scoring range for their opponents.

Ordonez is The Monitor’s 2023 All-Area Boys Soccer Defensive Player of the Year.

Hidalgo’s Gabriel Ordonez is The Monitor’s All-Area Boys Soccer Defensive Player of the Year. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

“I feel very happy and proud of myself,” said Ordonez, who won the same award last season. “This isn’t an award I won from one day to another. It has taken all the little things in training to get better and get to this point.”

Ordonez’s physicality played a key role down the stretch during the Pirates’ state title run, helping Hidalgo keep its two state tournament opponents scoreless en route to the Class 4A crown.

His dominant showing during the state tournament earned him a spot on the all-tournament team.

Ordonez also took on another role during his senior season, emerging as a penalty kick taker for the Pirates, ending with three goals during the district play and adding another in the playoffs.

“More than anything, I wanted the responsibility with it being my last year,” Ordonez said. “I wouldn’t want anyone else to take those penalties and give them that responsibility. I wasn’t comfortable at first and I was nervous, but I knew it had to be me this year.”

Ordonez finished the season with numerous accolades, including District 30-4A first-team honors and a spot on the inaugural All-Valley team.

Utility Player of the Year: Vicente Alvarez, McAllen High

McAllen High’s Vicente Alvarez lined up at multiple positions throughout the season for the Bulldogs this season. From playing forward to midfielder, he did whatever was asked.

No matter where Alvarez lined up, however, he almost always made his impact felt during McHi’s historic 2023 season, netting 32 goals and 10 assists in 26 games played.

He is The Monitor’s 2023 All-Area Boys Soccer Utility Player of the Year.

McAllen High’s Vicente Alvarez is The Monitor’s All-Area Boys Soccer Utility Player of the Year. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

“It means everything winning this award,” Alvarez said. “To me, it doesn’t matter what award you win because to win any award is insane to win against the hundreds of good players we have in the Valley. It is a beautiful moment for me and my family.”

Alvarez left his stamp on the game nearly every time he stepped onto the field this season, scoring in 14 of 17 district appearances to help the Bulldogs capture a share of the District 31-5A crown.

His 24 district goals ranked second in District 31-5A and tied for seventh in the Valley.

His scoring prowess also helped open the door for his teammates, drawing the attention of his defenders when lined up at midfield to set up his teammates for goals.

“It was an interesting season, playing at several spots, but it was fun,” Alvarez said. “It is nice being able to help the team wherever I can. If I can play somewhere to help the team, I am happy to play there.”

Alvarez’s stellar 2023 campaign helped McAllen High earn at least a share of the district title and postseason berth for the first time in six years.

During his postseason debut, Alvarez shone once again, recording a brace during a 3-2 victory over Donna North for McAllen High’s first postseason win since 2016.

Alvarez’s senior season earned him a spot on St. Edwards University’s boys soccer team next fall. He leaves McHi as the program’s single-season goals leader.

Goalkeeper of the Year: Sergio Castaneda, Hidalgo

Hidalgo’s Sergio Castaneda was a brick wall inside the net for the Pirates this season.

The sophomore goalkeeper was near impossible to score on during Hidalgo’s run to the Class 4A title, with the Pirates allowing less than a goal per contest.

His fearless effort inside the net resulted in clean sheets during eight of the Pirates’ 14 district contests, allowing just eight goals during district play.

Castaneda is The Monitor’s 2023 All-Area Boys Soccer Goalkeeper of the Year.

Hidalgo’s Sergio Castaneda is The Monitor’s All-Area Boys Soccer Goalkeeper of the Year. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

“I worked hard from when I was a kid to be able to make it as a goalie,” Castaneda said. “Thanks to God, I am able to get this award saying I’m the best goalie in the area. It feels really good. Allowing just eight goals, it goes back to working hard in practice on our defense. Because of that we were able to finish as one of the top defenses and for me winning this award.”

Castaneda wasn’t just dominant during the regular season. The District 30-4A goalkeeper of the year showcased his talents during the postseason, too, with the team allowing more than one score just twice during the Pirates’ seven playoff contests.

Most scores came with the game already in hand and Castaneda already on the bench, with Hidalgo outscoring its playoff opponents 27-7 during that span.

Castaneda saved his best work for the Pirates’ final three games of the season. During the Region IV-4A final, he came up with saves on three of Boerne’s five penalty attempts to eliminate the reigning back-to-back Class 4A state champs and send the Pirates to state.

He followed it up with back-to-back clean sheets at the state tournament, including a three-save contest in the semifinal, to help the Pirates capture the Class 4A state crown.

“I’m always confident in myself,” Castaneda said. “During that game against Boerne, I told my teammates before the shootout that I was going to take them to state. I came up with the saves and took us to state, and then we completed our goal.”

Newcomer of the Year: Gael Guerra, McAllen High

Playing goalkeeper comes with tons of pressure and responsibility. Stepping into the starting role as a freshman adds even more pressure.

That didn’t phase McAllen High’s Gael Guerra during his first year with the Bulldogs, emerging as one of the top goalies in the area during his freshman campaign.

The Bulldogs’ freshman finished with 146 saves and five clean sheets during district play, adding a pair of shootout victories. Guerra is The Monitor’s 2023 All-Area Boys Soccer Newcomer of the Year.

McAllen High’s Gael Guerra is The Monitor’s All-Area Boys Soccer Newcomer of the Year. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

“It was a big deal for me winning this award,” Guerra said. “At the end of the day, for me, this is a team award. If it wasn’t for my defenders being there, I wouldn’t be getting this award. I didn’t feel any pressure coming in. I had confidence in my ability and in my team and defenders.”

Guerra was thrust into the starting role from the get-go, joining a starting group loaded with underclassmen.

It didn’t take long for Guerra to earn the respect and confidence of his teammates, coming up with big saves throughout district play to help McHi capture a share of the district title for the first time since 2016.

One of his biggest performances came in a shootout against PSJA Southwest during district play, saving four of the Javelinas’ five attempts to secure the two points. The win proved to be a difference down the line, with McHi edging PSJA Southwest in the district standings by just three points.

Guerra enters next season as a veteran on a team graduating several key role players, looking to build off his team’s and his own success from last season.

“My mindset is to continue this success,” Guerra said. “We had a lot of it this past year, but we’re losing a lot of players. We’re going to have a lot of young players step up, including me, and we should still be a pretty good team.”

Coach of the Year: Esteban Alegria and Ezekiel Morales, Hidalgo

No team had a better soccer campaign this season than Hidalgo. The Pirates posted a dominating 29-7-3 record en route to the Class 4A state title.

Leading the charge for the Pirates this season were Esteban Alegria and Zeke Morales, each spending roughly half the season at the helm for Hidalgo.

Alegria and Morales are The Monitor’s 2023 All-Area Boys Soccer Co-Coaches of the Year.

Hidalgo head coach Esteban Alegria and former Hidalgo head coach Zeke Morales are The Monitor’s All-Area Boys Soccer Co-Coaches of the Year. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

“It was tough circumstances we were put in, but at the end of the day you pull through,” Alegria said. “What I always thought was we’re doing this for the kids. I’m not trying to make a pun, but someone has to steer the pirate ship. I took a step forward and I’m not going to lie, it was difficult. At the end of the day, all the pieces of the puzzle meshed at the right time and kind of sailed.”

“I’m grateful and thankful to God for the opportunity to be nominated and recognized like this,” Morales said. “It is humbling for me. This award is not only for me, but for my kids, the parents and the community. At the end of the day, this is their accomplishment. I always say teams are reflections of the parents and coaches. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to win anything.”

The Pirates dominated during the early half of the season under Morales, going 14-5-2. Three of those losses came from a self-imposed three-game forfeit by the Pirates.

Among those wins were a victory in the championship game of the Brownsville ISD tournament silver bracket and a win over then-reigning Class 4A back-to-back state champion Boerne during Hidalgo’s Copa La Frontera Tournament final.

“Winning that Copa La Frontera for the first time in 16 years against the two-time state champ, it gave us so much confidence and momentum,” Morales said. “It just built us up so much. We knew we had a strong team going in.”

Five games into district play, Morales was suspended indefinitely before being relieved of his coaching duties in late February. That didn’t slow the Pirates’ quest for a state title, as they went 15-1-0 under Alegria during the second half of the season.

During that span, the Pirates posted a 9-1-0 mark over their final 10 district games, outscoring their opponents 75-8. Their lone loss came as a forfeit by the Pirates against Zapata amid the midseason coaching changes.

Hidalgo continued to dominate in the postseason under Alegria, outscoring its seven playoff opponents 27-7 en route to the Class 4A state title.

“I know I’m still relatively young compared to other coaches. This is just my eighth-year coaching, sixth coaching soccer, but this season is No. 1 for sure compared to my others,” Alegria said. “I don’t think anything else will top this unless we go back again. I think it’ll be No. 1 for a while because of everything that happened and the obstacles. Not just the adults, but the kids were able to get past everything and move forward. Like I said before, this season is enough to make an ESPN 30-for-30.”

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