Last fall, the Morris Daily Herald Most Valuable Player for boys soccer scored 18 goals. This year’s MVP nearly doubled that.
Still, in looking at the player that Morris junior forward Ricardo Del Toro was this year, you have to look a little closer to appreciate what he brought to the Redskins.
“Ricardo has an outstanding work ethic in the offseason and on the practice field,” Morris coach David Valdivia said. “That’s besides the stats.”
Still, it’s the stats that stand out the most. The 32 goals is believed to be the most ever scored by an area player – two ahead of the 30 goals that Minooka’s Jim Kelly got in 2007. The 32 goals match what three-time girls MVP – Jillian Hetfleisch of Minooka – did this past spring.
Del Toro said he arbitrarily set his sights on 36 goals before the season started. So why 36?
“I just thought I could do it. It’s just a random number,” he said. “I went out to get it.”
While Del Toro added nine assists, Valdivia said he was at his best when sealing the deal.
“He is by far a finisher,” he said. “If he gets the opportunity to get near the goal, then he can put it into the net.”
Regardless, Del Toro said it took a great deal of help from his teammates to get that many goals.
“A lot of the goals I scored this year came from the midfielders. They helped out a lot,” Del Toro said. “Guys like Nick Borgstrom and Chava [Villanueva]. They were the main ones. And Nestor [Rodriguez], he usually plays forward where I would play, but he had to adjust to playing on the wing and did a really good job throughout the year. Playing and sending me balls and everything.”
As far back as he can remember, Del Toro said he’s been relied upon as a goal scorer.
“When I played in the rec league here – the MSA, I usually was kind of the guy that the team depended on,” he said. “My dad always told me that I should also be able to do that at the high school level. That’s what I go out and try to do.”
Being such a high-profile player sometimes has its rewards – like getting noticed by scouts and coaches.
“Some colleges have emailed me already. A couple of colleges at the college showcase I went to last year saw me score a goal and wanted to talk to me, but I was too young,” Del Toro said. “It’s a tournament where scouts show up and watch you play. It’s not about who wins the tournament, it’s how you play. I played in several of them including St. Louis and Kalamazoo, Mich.”
Which gives him the chance to pursue playing soccer at the next level.
“Yeah, it is a dream of mine,” he said. “That, and I also dream of going pro and that kind of thing.”
Del Toro said one of the things he likes the most about soccer is the dual nature of matches.
“I like how the game goes offense to defense back to back. Kind of like basketball,” he said. “That’s what I like – the constant offense to defense. It’s a game that comes down to execution.”
Execution that Del Toro knows is going to be necessary for the Redskins to win a fourth straight regional championship next fall.
“For the team, I think we’re a really good passing team and know what we can do and what we shouldn’t do,” he said. “I think the passing and scoring will be fine, but the defense we may need to work on because we lost a lot of people. We’re also going to be smaller.
“As for me, I’ll just keep working hard and I’m confident I’ll be fine. I’m not worried about it.”
Valdivia said no matter what the stats turn out to be for Del Toro next year, he knows there are certain other things he can count on him for his senior season.
“He is becoming a leader and will only get better next year,” he said.
Del Toro said he plans on doing that in a number of ways, not the least of which will be playing club ball again next year for Danny Makaric at Chicago Inter.
“During the spring I’ll probably do track. I want to lift and get faster,” he said. “In the summer I’ll probably work on my own and work with Valdivia’s summer program stuff.”
Not to mention to keep up the ethic behind closed doors.
“I just need to keep doing the work that nobody sees,” Del Toro said.