DENVER – Amid a learning year for Montezuma-Cortez High School boys soccer, senior Raul Soto remained a steadying influence for the Panthers.
Deservedly, Soto’s career accomplishments caught the eye of the all-state selection committee, as the Panther picked up his first recognition on the state’s highest honor roll, claiming honorable mention all-state in the 3A classification.
Opposition had to allocate significant energy in their game planning to account for Soto, whose deft touches and quick bursts allowed for teammates to work off the central midfielder into open spaces. Soto led M-CHS with eight goals, and always proved to be a threat offset pieces in the attacking half.
Tracking Soto was made all-the-more difficult by the fact that he would shift positions, ranging from defense to striker for the Panthers, even playing a bit of goalkeeper in support of the junior varsity squad.
Playing for his father, second-year head coach Juan Soto, Raul kept the Panthers in the middle of many contests against tough competition, as the Panthers posted a record of 2-11-1 in his final year.
Soto’s senior honor joins a collection of all-league recognitions, including first team All-Southwest League in both his junior and senior campaigns, and a second team nod as a sophomore. A captain on the Panthers, Soto earned the adulation of his coaches and teammates, while leading by example on and off the pitch.
“He never asked his teammates to do something that he wasn’t willing to do,” said the head coach of Raul’s leadership, “and he demonstrated an understanding of every position.”
Picking up the game from a young age, Soto starred on his rise through the age group through Tri City Soccer and travel soccer for Cortez Venom.
Soto, also a fixture on the M-CHS basketball team and a rising hurdle star for the track and field team, was named the team’s most outstanding player. He becomes the second Panther boys soccer player to earn the state’s top honor since CHSAA began delegating all-state honorees a decade ago.