All-Area soccer: Kennewick's Chavez just getting started

Jack Millikin, Tri-City HeraldJune 10, 2014 

There’s no telling how far Ramiro Chavez can go in soccer, or in life.

But after the recent Kennewick graduate and Lions striker scored a Mid-Columbia Conference-record 24 goals against a league of stubborn defenders, it wouldn’t be wise to bet against him.

“If Ramiro continues to develop his game, really the sky is the limit,” Kennewick coach Brian Gochoel said.

Gochoel knows a little something about players fulfilling their potential. He coached midfielder Alejandro Bedoya at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., long before Bedoya earned a spot on the U.S. national team headed for the World Cup.

Gochoel watched Bedoya move from high school to an impressive college career and then on to the professional ranks.

“He had the technical ability and vision in the attacking third, but his work rate is what really earned him a spot on the World Cup roster,” Gochoel said. “If guys like Ramiro keep learning and building, if he can continue to do what it takes to get a shot, (a professional career) is probably a logical step after college.”

Chavez is headed to Walla Walla Community College to continue the next phase of his career, following former Kennewick standouts Mike Chavez, Danny Valencia and Geo Vasquez.

Gochoel, the Herald coach of the year for the second time in the last three sesasons, will also be moving on in his career. The DePaul University graduate was tabbed as the man to build the Washington State-Tri-Cities club soccer team from the ground up beginning this fall.

“It’s certainly going to be a team effort. I’m thrilled with the opportunity to get this thing going, forging something from nothing,” he said. “Ultimately, I’ll be trying to facilitate oportunities for local kids to play competitively as they exit junior college or straight out of high school.”

But Gochoel will never forget the legacy he leaves at Kennewick, a team he led to the Class 3A state tournament three consecutive years.

“These boys could flat out play. On many occasions, we were able to put 8-12 passes together leading up to a goal-scoring opportunity,” Gochoel said. “That’s the way the game should be played. We could just flat out ball.”

Kennewick ended the Gochoel era on an unfortunate note, a bitter 1-0 loss to Sunnyside in the first round of state that featured some head-scratching calls by the officiating crew.

“The game can be cruel. Sometimes you run into things you can’t control, and you just have to persevere and move on,” he said. “It’s a shame things happened the way they did, but at the end of the day these boys represented their school and their community well.”

Chavez was one of five repeat selections to the first team, along with teammate Alvaro Licea. Hanford teammates Kelly Smith and Mario Zarate were also first-team picks last year, as was Pasco’s Emilio Meraz-Rodriguez.

Sunnyside made a splash this year, winning the Columbia Basin Big Nine title, a Class 3A regional title and a trip to the Final Four. The Grizzlies put three players — forward Christian Chavez, midfielder Enrique De La Cruz and defender Jacob Meza — on the first team.

Rounding out the first team are Marcos Borja of Kennewick; Joseph Ghirardo of Hanford; Jason Rodriguez of Othello; Jon Rosas of Pasco; Francisco Sanchez of Walla Walla and Jesus Torres of Chiawana.

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