Pedro Rodriguez keeps things moving for the Van Buren boys soccer team

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier

As Van Buren prepares for the playoffs next week, Pedro Rodriguez will be at the center.

The center midfielder has become a big part of his team's offense this season. He has scored 21 goals, including two games where he scored three times.

"He's a good player with a quality touch," coach Nathan Almond said. "So he has the ball on his feet a lot, and he makes things happen."

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The center midfielder a big responsibility for any team. Rodriguez is essentially responsible for controlling the field for his team.

"I have to make sure not to lose the ball in the middle of the field. If I lose the ball, then it's past me, and they can have an attack on us," Rodriguez said. "We have to make sure we move the ball and make good turns."

Van Buren suffered a 3-1 loss to Russellville (10-1-2) on May 3.

Rodriguez kicked the lone goal as the Pointers (12-2) defeated Siloam Springs 1-0 on Friday, May 7. Van Buren claimed its first conference title since 2006 and the top seed for the state tournament which begins on Thursday.

"We played well for the first 15 to 20 minutes possessing and moving the ball well," Rodriguez said. "We scored that first goal, and we just stopped putting the pressure on Russellville. We made a couple of mistakes, and they were able to score off of them."

The loss to Russellville was the first time Van Buren relinquished a lead this season, something Rodriguez doesn't want to repeat the rest of the year.

Rodriguez grew up in a family that played soccer and moved from Sallisaw to Van Buren when he was a sophomore. He was already familiar with the Van Buren program and many of its players as they played in a travel team during the offseason.

"These are my friends, and I love playing with them," Rodriguez said. "Soccer is a beautiful sport. I fell in love with it. There's an intensity with the people who come to the game, they get into it, and we can feed off that energy. It's exciting to play for them. It's amazing. It's wonderful."