The Mansfield Lake Ridge boys soccer team has been on a quite a roll this season, and a big part of the reason why has been the play of Brandon Cerda, the midfielder who wears black tape around his wrist every game.
Cerda has been the top offensive player for the Eagles in 2016-2017, and the Lake Ridge junior is dedicating this season to a very special purpose.
Carlos Perez, a former Lake Ridge student and soccer player for the junior varsity program, died last year while the varsity team was in the playoffs.
Cerda said it affected him profoundly.
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“That hit me really hard,” Cerda said. “The tears I saw on all of my teammates’ faces who personally were really close to him — I will never forget that pain my school and program felt. I promised Carlos’ parents that I will dedicate every single game and goal to him, win or lose. That is why I wear black tape on my wrist with his initials and number on it [CP19] every game and kiss my wrist after every goal.
“Personally, I think that’s why my team and I have been very successful this season, I know he’s watching over us, and I will continue to play for him and the legacy he left at Lake Ridge.”
The Eagles junior has been the top scorer for the top-ranked team in District 10-5A this season, and coach Cory Elolf said that Cerda is that kind of player that every coach wants to have on his team.
“Brandon brings a lot of leadership on and off the field,” Elolf said. “Off field, he gets his teammates involved in whatever the team is doing, whether it’s Topgolf, team dinners, you name it, he trys to get the whole team to bond. On field, he brings a lot of playing experience. He started his freshman year and is a fierce competitor that hates to lose, even in practice.”
Elolf said that Cerda “makes those around him better,” and Cerda said he appreciates what Elolf has done for him this season.
“I try and bring creativity to my team,” Cerda said. “I feel like Coach Elolf has done a great job expanding my role with Lake Ridge this season by letting me express myself in whichever way I feel is best for the team. I can be a natural center mid and do my best to control the game and distribute and feed my wingers and strikers.
“But at the same time, I have a vision for goal up top, that’s something that I’ve always had and will continue to improve. I feel this season I have brought a lot confidence and leadership to our team, whether it’s from a goal, a pass, a skill or just encouragement letting them know I have their backs.”
Cerda also plays club soccer with the Dallas Texans and hopes to eventually play professional soccer.