The Brighton boys' soccer team had a setback earlier this season when it was determined that some of the younger players weren’t attending the Boston Scholar Athletes’ Zone, a tutoring center in each of the city’s public high schools. Coach Adrian Kawuba addressed the issue at practice, explaining that each player must attend in order to continue playing on the team.
Fortunately, he had backup -- in the form of 18-year-old senior captain Rossel Cacho.
“He gathered the guys as I was leaving and drove my point across, that we have something special this season,” Kawuba said. “That in order to keep it going, we have to focus on academics, too.
"It wasn’t something I told him to do; it’s just a perfect example of who he is.”
Maturity and excellent academic performance represent only one side of Cacho. On the field, he is the top scorer in all of Eastern Massachusetts, with 25 goals and 22 assists.
“For me, soccer is everything,” the team captain said. “I’ve always had a love for soccer and a desire to become a professional player. I enjoy everything about the game.”
His passion dates back to when he was just 6 years old, growing up in Honduras. That’s where he fell in love with the game and would practice every day. He moved to the US three years ago and said that while soccer here is different compared with his native country, his passion never wavered.
“It was difficult, I had to adjust to the system at first,” he explained. “But I learned proper technique and now I play at my best.”
As the leading scorer in EMass, he has proven that to be true. When comparing his stats to those of suburban players, though, some raise questions about the quality of Cacho’s competition.
“Quite frankly, I think he’d score as many as he does here in the suburbs,” Kawuba said. “He’s extremely talented.
"Sure, we’ve played a couple teams where the goals came a little easier, but that shouldn’t belittle the league. There are very strong teams like Madison, Dorchester, and East Boston. Most of his goals haven’t been easy and he had to earn every single one.”
Cacho said that he scored each goal as a result of daily practice, along with the help of his teammates.
“I was so happy when Coach told me I had the most goals [in EMass],” he said. “But I owe it to my teammates. Without them, scoring wouldn’t be possible.”
There’s no doubt the Bengals have chemistry on and off the field. They encourage one another and emphasize communication, which could be the reason behind their solid 9-3 record. Cacho credits Kawuba for the team’s newfound success.
“He takes his time with us, but he also pushes us,” Cacho said. “Our practices are intense with a lot of physical work. When he sees a mistake, we practice again and again so we can get better and reach the next level.”
Likewise, Kawuba thinks his top scorer has played a part in turning the team around.
“Cacho helped me as a new coach, keeping me up to date on what the team was like last year and connecting to a lot of these players,” he said. “It’s like he’s almost my assistant coach in the way that he gathers the guys and motivates them. Sometimes it takes a player more than a coach to drive a point across and he’s been that for me this year.”
With that guidance, Brighton has already qualified for the state tournament. It will be determined whether the Bengals will be one of the four teams selected to play in the city championships at the end of this week.
Cacho believes the Bengals will not only make it to the city championships but go home with the title.
“They’re my second family,” he said. “All season we’ve helped each other and made each other better. They’re my brothers. We are going to win.”
If Cacho can be sure about anything, it’s that his future is bright. According to Kawuba, he has been scouted all season. He is currently in talks to continue his soccer career at Fisher College.
“Anyone would be lucky to have a player of his caliber on their team,” Kawuba said. “He’s too good not to play.”
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