Earlier in March, Pine View boys soccer senior midfielder Michael Cardenas signed a letter of intent to play for Dixie State.
Before going to DSU he’s charged with taking the reins of a young Panthers squad looking to survive in a loaded Region 9.
This season the Panthers have to not only contend with the Flyers, favorites to hoist the trophy again this year, but the suddenly resurgent Desert Hills Thunder, which has breezed past opponents seemingly without much effort.
“Almost every team lost their seniors and we did too, so everyone has a young team. I think it’s gonna be good. I’m so excited to play,” Cardenas said.
Cardenas scored seven goals and six assists last year for the Panthers, who lost in last year’s 3A title game to Dixie High.
He has two goals so far this season as PV has rebounded from an 0-3 start with three straight wins to put its season mark at 3-3.
Cardenas, one of the three team captains, is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, and came to the United States when he was 11 years old.
Rob Lorentzen is the Panthers assistant coach and teaches English as a Second Language at Fossil Ridge Intermediate School, where Cardenas went.
“I was actually his teacher and I said I would’ve adopted him right off the bat, he’s a great kid,” Lorentzen said after PV’s practice on Wednesday.
Cardenas is a quiet, shy type, but there are some things that make him suited for a captain’s role.
But he says the hardest part about taking on the leadership role isn’t necessarily taking responsibility.
“Especially when you’re shy it’s kind of hard to motivate people and be loud and all that. Right now I think I’ve been doing good,” he said.
He has the respect of his players, which is vital.
“He has fun with them when he needs to, but at the same time if he needs to bring down the discipline, he can do it. So as a captain that’s great,” Lorentzen said.
Certainly Cardenas has adapted to life and school in the U.S., but one quality remains the same with Cardenas ever since he stepped into Lorentzen’s classroom.
“He still remains humble. That’s kind of the crazy thing about him,” Lorentzen said.
Red Storm head coach Josh Pittman told DixieAthletics.com in a statement that Cardenas was a very “versatile player” who will “add depth to our attack.”
DSU went 10-2-4 last season after winning nine games in the previous three seasons combined.
“When the coach told me that he wanted me to play (for DSU), I was so excited. It’s a great opportunity. Why not take it?” Cardenas said.
Dixie State was the only school that showed any real interest in Cardenas.
A coach from Snow College came down to a Pine View game earlier this season, but nothing ever materialized after that.
Cardenas said DSU was the only school he really wanted to play for, making it an easy choice.
His friends and family are in St. George, including his cousin Albert, who also plays for Pine View.
Cardenas is one of eight who signed their NLI’s at the beginning of March. It’s a talented class, one reason why Cardenas is excited to get the chance to play for the Red Storm.