Nine Thunderducks migrate across the country

Nine Richland soccer players have signed national letters of intent to further their collegiate careers at four-year universities. A slew of transfers and an assortment of sophomores enjoyed a fruitful fall campaign in which the Richland men’s team reclaimed the championship as the best NJCAA Division III outfit in the nation.

As graduation loomed closer, the nine departing players said farewell to their teammates and peers at their national signing ceremony on April 26.

Reyes Vargas and Carlos Valdez relocated to Dallas from Houston last fall. They were forced to find another school to further their collegiate soccer careers after San Jacinto College men’s soccer program abruptly ended in May 2018. They joined Richland and assimilated as important pieces of the team.

Vargas ended the season with nine goals and two assists in 15 games. After an initial slow start with Richland, Vargas’ influence grew as the season progressed, contributing with vital goals in the playoffs and nationals. He has committed to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.

“It was kind of difficult for me because I was coming back from an injury. But throughout the season, you know, I got the rhythm back, my goal scoring opportunities back and helped the team win a national title,” Vargas said.

Marco Cordoba, front left, Sergio Gonzalez, Reyes Vargas, Pedro Tavarez, Hector Wong, Francisco Rodriguez, Kevin Rivas, Victor Radilla and Carlos Valdez at signing day on April 25.

Marco Cordoba, front left, Sergio Gonzalez, Reyes Vargas, Pedro Tavarez, Hector Wong, Francisco Rodriguez, Kevin Rivas, Victor Radilla and Carlos Valdez at signing day on April 25.

Valdez committed to Northern Illinois University after a string of fine displays for the Thunderducks. He started all 19 games for Richland, including the national championship match in which his trickery and attacking prowess were on display for all.

“Personally, I think [it was] for sure one of the best seasons I’ve had. [It is] way better than last year. Right now, I’m focusing on graduating and [then] getting a starting spot next year,” Valdez said.

Hector Wong is transferring 45 miles west of Dallas to Fort Worth’s Texas Wesleyan University. Wong was mainly a backup goalkeeper during his time at Richland and he hopes to seal a starting berth on his new team next season.

“My goal there is to be a part of the team and try to achieve more. They’ve reached playoffs and hopefully get them to the [another] playoff,” Wong said.

The trio of Sergio Gonzalez, Kevin Rivas and Victor Radilla committed to University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

Marco Cordoba (University of Houston), Pedro Tavarez (Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio), Francisco Rodriguez (North Park University in Illinois) are the other departing members of the championship-winning squad.

Head coach Sean Worley bid farewell to the departing members of his team. He expressed joy at the progress of his players and said he is excited about the opportunities they will have.

“This is a life-changing experience,” Worley said. “The success they’ve had at Richland is a springboard to help them. And, them winning is very important because it sets up future opportunities. But when they do actually transfer, this is a life-changing opportunity that’s going to affect not only their lives, but their children’s and family’s lives.”