After acting as a key cog this winter for the undefeated Desert Mirage boys soccer team, which won a CIF Southern Section Division 6 title and a Southern California Regional Boys Soccer title, Rams senior Armando Rivera hopes to take his winning ways to the college level with a Division 1 school not far from home.
On Friday, Rivera filed his paperwork and announced on Twitter that he will attend Cal State Fullerton with the plans of playing soccer for the Titans next fall and possibly earning a scholarship in the future.
Rivera went on his first visit to Fullerton a week ago and was immediately impressed with the team’s devotion and discipline, even in the spring off-season.
“One time in practice, the head coach (George Kuntz) wasn’t liking what he was seeing and called for everyone to stop, and they all stopped right away and looked at him as he explained what he wanted and how to fix it,” Rivera said. “Right away, everyone changed and did it how he wanted to, so the fact that he was able to get everyone’s attention quickly and have them buy into changes, it was very impressive.”
The Titans defeated UC Santa Barbara, 1-0, last fall in the Big West tournament to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament, where they fell to Santa Clara in the first round, 3-0. They finished atop the South Division standings at 6-3-1, with a 13-8-1 mark on the full season.
Of course, Rivera and the rest of the senior-laden Rams squad isn’t exactly used to losing — they haven’t done so while representing Desert Mirage since the 2014-15 season. Because he learned what it takes to succeed against the best at the high school level, Rivera said he’s confident he can take that same drive and leadership he used this season to make a quick impact at Fullerton.
“I have the experience of what it takes to be a champion. All the hard work we have to put in,” he said. “I feel like I can take that to the next level. I know what the feeling is, and I know I want to keep that feeling, so in order to do that, I have to work extremely hard.”