Team unity playing a big role for Centennial boys soccer

Patriots eager for a state championship after winning two straight consolation titles.

rroberts@idahostatesman.comOctober 24, 2013 

The Centennial boys are one of 48 soccer teams playing in six state tournaments Thursday through Saturday throughout the Treasure Valley. The 5A girls play at Meridian and Rocky Mountain high schools; the 5A boys play at Eagle and Rocky Mountain high schools; the 4A boys and girls are at Brothers Park in Caldwell; and the 3A boys and girls play at Vallivue High.


Toward the end of the regular season, Tyler Barr was fouled twice in the box in one game, resulting each time in a penalty kick. Barr gave those penalty kicks to teammates Jaeden Stevens and DJ Carlyle, which is allowed in soccer.

At the time, few people realized exactly what the senior forward was giving up.

Stevens and Carlyle made their PKs, becoming the 16th and 17th players to score this season for the Centennial High boys soccer team.

Had Barr made those shots, he would have taken over as the Patriots’ leading scorer.

“I don’t think anybody else realized it, but I sure did,” coach Brian Gillenwater said. “... For him to hand that up at the end of the season when he was that close.”

Barr’s selflessness has been a reoccurring theme for the Patriots over the past few seasons, as Gillenwater pushes his players to be good teammates and citizens.

It started last season when teammate Htay Koko injured his knee in a game.

Koko — a refugee from Burma — works after school rolling sushi at Whole Foods to help provide for his family. His teammates wanted to be sure Koko didn’t forego the care he needed for his knee, so they started a fundraiser.

Big Al’s donated an all-inclusive party, and players sold raffle tickets during games, at school and on Facebook. The Patriots raised more than $1,200 for Koko.

“He’s just a really good teammate of ours and he’s been our friend since he came here freshman year,” senior defender Juanjo Carmona-deVille said. “Our team is really close with each other. We’re all friends. He was having a tough time, so we wanted to help him out.”

The desire to help a teammate opened another door for the Patriots when they learned of an opportunity with the International Rescue Committee in Boise, which provides life-saving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster.

Having heard the stories of Koko and teammate Ibroxim Madjidov, who came to the United States from Turkey in 2006, the Patriots worked with the IRC to put on a soccer clinic for refugees and their families at Ann Morrison Park last fall.

In addition to sharing their soccer knowledge, the team also collected old cleats and soccer balls to give to the families.

“It was cool because it wasn’t just the kids coming out to play,” senior defender Griffin Durupt said. “The parents and grandparents came, too.”

The camaraderie has spilled over into the 2013 season with team dinners, team sleepovers and an overwhelming sense that every player’s role matters on a team where 17 of 18 kids have scored at least one goal (a backup goalkeeper is the one player who hasn’t scored).

“I think the interesting part about our team is that we don’t have one star. If you look at our stat line, you’re not going to see one player with 20-something goals,” Durupt said. “Most of the teams that are on top that are winning state or winning a lot of games have that one player. ... There is just this sense of unselfishness with us because we are so close and we get along so well.”

Their unity has translated well on the field, where the Patriots finished as the regular-season champions and earned the No. 2 seed at the 5A state tournament.

Players say they are eager to take the next step after winning the consolation title the past two seasons.

“Being seniors this year and not winning it the past two years has just amounted to a ‘This is it. This is the final for all of us,’ ” said Durupt, one of nine seniors. “I wouldn’t say it adds more pressure. We’re more eager to win this time. This is the year for Centennial to win it. We haven’t won it in a while.”

The Patriots have won four state championships since 2000, the last one in 2009.

Rachel Roberts: 377-6422, Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX

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