SHS Goalkeeper Cesar Rizo was all smiles when talking about last week’s semi-finals game against Heritage that put the team in the 6A State Championship finals.
“I felt happy in this last game and felt very motivated by the people that came to watch,” he said. “I think I played well, I made a mistake but I am happy that I was able to come back and correct my mistake.”
Two years ago, Rizo was playing goalie for a chapter of Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente in Tijuana, Mexico. Now he’s hoping to help Springdale High School win another state championship.
Cesar graduated from SHS last week and said he hopes to attend college and study medicine.
English Teacher Diolanda Dye said Rizo’s positive attitude will help him achieve his goals.
“As a student, Cesar is the type of student every teacher loves to have in their class,” Dye said. “He gives off such a positive energy and he shares that with others.
“The truth is that Cesar has to work twice as hard, because English is his second language, but he never seems discouraged.”
Dye said she sees the same attitude from Rizo on the soccer field.
“He was our back up goalie, until Abram Cordero was badly injured during a game, and Cesar had to take over for the season,” she said. “He has taken on the challenge with poise and determination and he has gained the respect and support of his teammates and coaches for it.”
Despite this being his first year on varsity, Rizo was ready to step up.
“I was already working hard before the goalie got injured, so I felt confident that I would be able to do it,” he said.
Rizo gained a bit more confidence last Saturday during the semi-final game when he blocked two of Heritage’s penalty kicks to clinch Springdale’s win.
Dye said Rizo’s character was truly on display in those final moments.
“Naturally, there was tremendous pressure on the goalies for both teams,” she said. “I noticed as the goalies were switching back and forth between kicks, Cesar was fist bumping the goalie from Heritage and giving him encouragement. I wasn’t surprised when I saw it, because that is Cesar: genuine, positive, humble, respectful, diligent.”
The Bulldogs play Conway in Benton tomorrow at 4 p.m. Watch live at https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/aaa/gam9d9ade7750 .