Earning 18: Esquivel named soccer MVP
He was born with a passion for the game of soccer.
He also had the grit to come back from a nagging knee injury his junior year.
While the season may not have gone exactly as the Minooka Indians would have liked this year, the job senior forward Mo Esquivel turned in this past fall was solid indeed. Buoyed by his 18-goal performance this past season on the soccer pitch, Esquivel is being named the Morris Daily Herald 2012 All-Area MVP for boys soccer.
"He's one of those players that loves the game and who strives to get better every day," Minooka coach Chris Brolley said. "He will do well at the next level."
Esquivel had expectations placed upon him at the beginning of the season associated with being named one of the Indians co-captains.
"As a captain, he did everything that was expected of a young individual in that role," Brolley. "He did that the right way."
Esquivel also apparently rehabilitated his right knee the right way.
"Last season I was injured and played in most of the games, but I didn't start," Esquivel said. "I probably only played half the games, too, because if I was on the field too long, I'd be in pain."
Following last soccer season, Esquivel took the winter off thinking his knee would be fine by the spring. However, during track season, the knee injury flared up again and this time went right to the doctor about it.
"I ended up going to physical therapy at ATI at the Minooka facility," Esquivel said. "I did that for five or six weeks. It was actually two times a week."
Esquivel recovered in time to play half a season for his spring travel team and then over the summer. Over the years, he played for travel teams like Crossroads, Legends, the Naperville Lightning, the Chicago Fire and Juventus.
"Some of those teams ended up folding up or merging with other teams," Esquivel said. "Some were just charging too much for me to continue to play there."
Up until the start of the fall season, Esquivel had a somewhat uneventful career with the Indians. He scored three goals as a junior, three as a sophomore — both on the varsity team — and as a freshman, he scored 10 goals for the sophomore team.
Esquivel has been playing soccer in Minooka since the fifth grade after moving into the district from Joliet. He took in his first Indians game at the age of 13 when Minooka's varsity team got to the super-sectional in 2007 behind the efforts of Jim Kelly.
"Jim Kelly set the school record for goals that year with 30," Esquivel said. "I went up to the super-sectional game up at Toyota Park that year. I went with my family."
Since then, Esquivel has had his eyes on being a prolific scorer just like Kelly was.
"I knew coming in what the school record was," Esquivel said. "I worked hard to be an offensive player like that."
Esquivel has been told by his mother that he was kicking a soccer ball from the time he could walk, so those kind of expectations from him aren't completely unexpected.
"My mom said that's all I'd do — kick a soccer ball," Esquivel said. "I guess you could say that I was born with a passion for the sport of soccer."
Esquivel said that his season highlight was scoring a hat trick late in the second half in a Southwest Prairie Conference match against Oswego with Minooka down 2-0 at the time. He also ranked a 4-0 win over Joliet West as one of his favorites.
Coach Brolley also said that a final-minute goal to beat Soloreal Academy, scoring the final two goals in a win over Bolingbrook, an overtime winner against Plainfield East and two goals in the last-second win over Providence should also be listed on Esquivel's highlight reel.
"He has a talent and an excitement that I was very happy to watch this season," Brolley said. "His attitude and ability drove him to where he is today."
Overall, Esquivel said that the season was a success despite the outcome for the Indains.
"I'd classify it as a great experience all four years," Esquivel said. "I had a great group of teammates and this was the best group of guys in all four years at the school."
Esquivel said that he was inspired during his high school days by Tony Velazquez and the hard work and dedication he put into the sport. Esquivel is hoping that some of his hard work will also be an inspiration to someone else in the Indians program, or even someone younger who wants to play for Minooka.
"I'd tell someone that if soccer is your sport to play on a travel team and to also get out and run," Esquivel said. "Also, be ready to play at a competitive level against some very good athletes."