Celis Ordonez (left) and Sonnie Mathis work on passing drills.
[Update: This story ran Monday morning but now has new photos from Monday’s afternoon practice. ]
On a recent Thursday evening in December, the North Dallas soccer team was scrimmaging on the school field. Using the lights from the tennis courts at Cole Park, the players hustled up and down the field in the cold, wet 35-degree weather. The Bulldogs are working hard and setting their sights on a playoff spot.
North Dallas Coach Jonatan Benitez, along with assistant Leon Brigham, has high expectations in new District 12-4A. The Bulldogs’ season starts with a scrimmage against Woodrow Wilson at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Loos Stadium. The season opens with nondistrict games against Seagoville on Saturday at Franklin Field, and against Richardson on Jan. 14 at Mustang-Eagle Stadium. (See schedule below.)
“This is my fourth year here, so I feel like I finally get to have the team that I built four years ago,” Benitez said. “I have really good expectations. These kids have been with me since day 1. so they’re part of me being here.
“It’s time. This is like my test, my exam,” he continued. “The four years I’ve been preparing myself, and this season will be the outcome to see how I’ve been doing with these kids. Hopefully, they can manage to have a great season.”
Mauro Rincon dives to block the shot.
Benitez said he has about 10 seniors on the squad, led by forward Luis Rosales, Celis Ordonez, Daniel Navarette, Marco Castro, and Kevin Zuniga. Abelino Duarte and Mauro Rincon are the goalkeepers.
“He’s [Mauro] a senior and he has been showing a great level,” Benitez said. “He’s ready. He’s a great leader, very vocal. That’s a good challenge between him and Abelino. That’s a challenge right there. It’s a good challenge, a healthy challenge. There’s no hatred between them. A healthy competition between the two of them.”
Mauro said he has high expectations.
“I expect a lot from this team, and we’re looking good right now,” Mauro said recently.
When asked about his expectations, Luis said, “Making the playoffs. Push the team so we can do better, and score a lot of goals. … The team is pretty good this year. This season is going to be good.”
Benitez said he plans to carry 20 players on the North Dallas varsity and 25 on the junior varsity squad.
“This year, we have high expectations even though we’re playing in 4A,” he said. “There’s a good vibe on the team. So hopefully, we have a good run this year.”
One North Dallas player works on his ball-handling skills.
He flips his leg over the ball.
The ND player works on ball control.
Abelino Duarte dives to make a stop during drills.