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Good things come in threes
by Aaron Retherford
Oct 12, 2009 | 1224 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne - Reed sophomore Dylan Valentine is leading the team in goals and is one of the three forwards making the offense go.
Tribune/John Byrne - Reed sophomore Dylan Valentine is leading the team in goals and is one of the three forwards making the offense go.
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There is only one boys soccer team that is still undefeated in league play in the Northern 4A and that just happens to be Reed.

With the way the Raiders are playing lately, they're looking to keep that league record unblemished heading into the regional tournament.

It doesn't hurt they have two of the top three goal scorers in the HDL either.

Senior Rica Martinez is third on the list with 12 goals, while sophomore Dylan Valentine has 15 in 15 games this season.

The duo has helped Reed jump into first place with a 6-0-2 HDL record following a string of five straight victories in which the Blue and Gold has outscored its five opponents by a 14-6 margin.

Martinez has played on varsity since his freshman year and is continuing on his breakout season from last fall.

"His (Martinez) leadership is huge. He was a first team (all-league) player last year," Reed boys soccer coach Jeff Valentine said. "He's a great a kid. He's taken the younger kids, like my own boy Dylan, under his wing."

Their talents compliment each other. Martinez is the bigger and stronger of the two, while Valentine is smaller and quicker. But both have similar strengths.

"They are both very talented with their footwork. They are a unique combination because they're ambidextrous," coach Valentine said. "That's huge for our team because not many kids can do that. I think pretty much half of their goals have been with both feet. They're not one-sided at all.

"They're very unselfish. They're not greedy at all, and they actually look to pass first."

The twosome's assists show their unselfishness. Martinez has about 10 assists, while Valentine has helped on about five goals.

Even though Reed was not losing games - last loss was Sept. 9 versus Carson - Valentine was not satisfied with the team's play so he decided to switch up things about four games ago.

With a formation change to a 3-4-3, there is an added focus on offense. It also brings senior Marco Licciardi to the front from the midfield. Licciardi had struggled earlier this season after getting a late start, but he is a proven goal scorer as the team's leading scorer the past two seasons. Valentine said Licciardi has stepped up recently and his presence is the main reason the other two forwards are playing well.

"Once he scored his first goal in league, it really opened things up. His creativity opens things up for Ricardo and Dylan because it seems like teams key on him since he's so good with is feet," coach Valentine said.

Dylan Valentine made varsity as a freshman, but dropped down to the JV squad in order to get playing time. He then proceeded to lead the team in goals, but definitely believes the two seniors have helped him during his first varsity season.

"It's always huge having them there because they're leaders," the sophomore said. "Knowing they're just as good or better than me, makes everyone's job that much easier when you have that high level of play. As long as we do what we need to do, the goals will keep coming.

"I'm having so much fun, especially as a sophomore. Being a sophomore and scoring at the varsity level is just huge. It's everything I could expect to be."

Licciardi, affectionately referred to as the 'Garbage Man' by his teammates when he led the Raiders in goals as a sophomore, can appreciate what Valentine brings to the team.

"I see a lot of myself in Dylan," Licciardi said. "He's a great player and knows how to be in the right place at the right time."

Reed isn't a stranger to performing well in league the past couple years, but that hasn't necessarily translated into success in the postseason.

However, Valentine thinks that might change this season thanks to a new coaching staff that includes former Raider players from their 2000 state championship team - Vince Licciardi and Garrett Moss. Moss was the head coach at North Valleys last year.

"It's phenomenal because they can look back at the final they won 10 years ago and tell the kids this is what it takes to get to that level," coach Valentine said.

The players are equally pleased with the new coaching staff.

"We work a lot harder this year," Martinez said. "They're going to work hard because it is their old school."

Marco Licciardi shared similar sentiments.

"We haven't had much of a coaching staff previous to this year. We're a lot more organized. Our heads are more in the right place and they're keeping us in check," he said. "We want to see more of a payoff and that's what we hope this coaching staff will help us do."
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Good things come in threes by Aaron Retherford


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