BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Argos boys soccer team’s regular season record was once again unsightly.
And once again, it should have been ignored.
Last year, Argos won two regular season games before winning two postseason games and the sectional title.
This year, Argos came into the postseason 3-13 and then got past Culver, North White and Carroll (Flora) to reach the Class 1A regional final at Taylor before losing to Park Tudor.
It was another state tournament run in which Argos relied on their culture and their way, and it might have been especially important this year due to the health issue that kept coach Todd VanDerWeele off the sideline.
And while Argos’ inspirational run to the regional final was the story of the season,
the RTC Player of the Year once again hailed from Tippecanoe Valley.
Last year, it was Jonathan Ruiz. This year, it is Gio Arriaga.
Arriaga scored 31 goals this season as Valley went 11-6-1. He plays with speed and skill and always seems to be near the ball when the ball is near the goal.
The issue for Valley moving forward is that the Indiana Northern State Conference, in which Valley is one of six teams, begins play next year, and that means Valley will be in the same conference with Bremen, a consistent superpower in the sport.
Valley will continue to have to improve in order to compete with the Lions.
Here are the rest of the players joining Arriaga on the All-RTC boys soccer team.
Once again, we thank all area coaches for supplying us with statistics as well as their insights. However, this list is ours and ours alone, and we take full responsibility for it.
Gio Arriaga (Tippecanoe Valley) (RTC Player of the Year) – Arriaga often gets physical treatment from defenders, but he shoots accurately at full speed. Against rival Rochester, Valley won both games 2-0, and Arriaga scored all four goals.
Sean Richard (Argos) – We do not usually recognize players who miss as much time due to injury as Richard did, but we make an exception here. His leadership was critical, and he was a crucial two-way player during Argos’ state tournament run.
Parker Wallace (Rochester) – The best goalkeeper in the area was Wallace. He’s somehow both acrobatic but also capable of cutting off angles. He has great instincts, and he sets up his teammates with his punts.
Luke Stults (Argos) – Stults is 6-5 and a great athlete, which makes him a star when the ball is up in the air. But he has improved his finishing skills too.
Grant Bailey (Rochester) – Bailey is a defender who usually had to mark the top scoring threat on the opposing team. His great speed and positioning allowed him to be successful at this.
Eric Eikenberry (Tippecanoe Valley) – Eikenberry was a stud for Valley, physically imposing down the middle of the pitch. He worked well with Arriaga and finished with 16 goals.
Ethan Petz (Argos) – Petz showed signs of being a good playmaker in 2022, and he enhanced those skills this year. He was stronger and more fluid when he was in possession of the ball. Richard’s injury forced him to become a better leader, and the team was better off for it.
Jan Aguilar-Mendez (Caston) – Aguilar-Mendez was the Comets’ top offensive weapon with his speed and creativity.
Jackson Kindig (Argos) – Kindig was the anchor in the back row for the Dragons and absolutely heroic in those big wins over North White and Carroll.
Ben Zahm (Argos) – Zahm took over greater responsibility in the midfield, essentially replacing the important role that A.J. Mills performed last year.
Conner Burton (Winamac) – Burton followed up last year’s 15-goal season with 18 goals this year. That’s impressive considering that Winamac had few other offensive weapons to bother opponents.
Carson Craft (Tippecanoe Valley)
Austin Owens (Argos)
Wyatt Davis (Rochester)
Mekhi Austin (Argos)
Kenyan Beldon (Argos)
Beau Fishburn (Argos)
Alex Craig (Caston)
Carlos Plascencia (Rochester)
David Hite (Culver)
Braden Krom (Rochester)
Kevin Marr (Tippecanoe Valley)