Young Cubs thriving: Sophomore class has fourth-ranked Nevada boys’ soccer team off to 8-1 start

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

Things didn’t go as planned for Edgar Cabrera and Drew Robinson during wrestling season, so the Nevada sophomores have decided to atone themselves on the soccer field. 

Cabrera and Robinson have stepped up big at forward as part of an amazing sophomore class that has helped the Nevada boys’ soccer team get off to an 8-1 start. 

Nevada's Edgar Cabrera and Central Iowa United's Andrew Tollefson battle for the ball during the first half of the Cubs' 10-0 victory at SCORE Athletic Complex in Nevada Thursday. Cabrera scored three goals and is part of a talented sophomore class that has the Cubs 8-1 and ranked fourth in Class 2A.

“It’s great to have them playing the way they are right now,” Nevada head boys’ soccer coach Todd Sampson said. “Both of them have gained confidence as the season’s gone on and they love playing soccer.” 

Cabrera was forced to miss the entire wrestling season after being diagnosed with a heart murmur. He was cleared to begin competing in athletics again April 1, the day of Nevada’s first soccer game against Ballard. 

“I wanted to make sure I know what this is and ended up being safe with it,” Cabrera said. “I got a gym membership so I could make sure I could stay physically fit and get ready for soccer. Throughout the winter I got a couple friends out on weekends. We went and passed the ball around and I played in another league. I was able to keep touches on the ball.” 

Robinson had a disappointing ending to his wrestling campaign. After qualifying for state as a freshman he was unable to make it past sectionals in February. 

Toward the end of the wrestling season Robinson was coming back from a minor knee injury and he also had to miss some time on the mat due to COVID-19. 

“I obviously didn’t get to ‘The Well’ (Wells Fargo Arena) this year in wrestling, but I feel like soccer this year – we have all the potential in the world to go to state and go very far,” Robinson said. “If we win it that’s the perfect redemption for wrestling.” 

Robinson and Cabrera have combined for 17 goals so far in 2021. 

“It’s always the best to have them out there because I can always look for an option – (Cabrera) is on the right or (Robinson) is on the left – they're always there,” Nevada senior Jose Buenrrostro said. “They are always willing to give full effort.” 

Their wrestling background has helped Robinson and Cabrera bounce back strong from the obstacles they faced to excel on the soccer field. 

“They’re two of our toughest guys,” Sampson said. “Being wrestlers, their mental toughness comes out. I do think it rubs off on everybody else.” 

Through Thursday’s 10-0 victory over Central Iowa United, Robinson has scored 11 goals and dished out five assists. He ranks second on the team in scoring behind Buenrrostro – an all-state forward/midfielder who has 14 goals and 16 assists. 

Nevada's Drew Robinson kicks the ball past Central Iowa United's Roger Lopez and Jacob Bogle during the first half of the Cubs' 10-0 victory Thursday at the SCORE Athletic Complex in Nevada. Robinson scored two goals to up his season total to 11 in nine games during his sophomore campaign to help the Cubs start 8-1 and earn a No. 4 ranking in 2A.

Cabrera has six goals in just five games, including a hat-trick against Central Iowa United.   

“At first I didn’t feel I was putting enough touches on the ball after not being able to practice the first three or four weeks,” Cabrera said. “But coming back into the game gave me the feeling of 'this is what I need to do.'” 

Having played together for several years has been a big reason why Robinson and Cabrera have been able to overcome adversity so quickly and adjust so well in their first season of varsity soccer. 

“We’ve been able to build off the chemistry that we’ve had since we were little kids,” Cabrera said. “We’ve held onto it with Jacob (Stufflebeam), Luis (Lopez) and all those (senior) guys.” 

Kent Sponseller (eight goals and five assists), Aidan Freeman (10 assists and two goals), Carson Rhodes (six goals), Sam Betting (three assists) and Owen Freeman (25 saves at keeper) make up the rest of a fantastic sophomore class.  

“We knew we had a lot of pieces we really needed to fit together,” Sampson said. “I think we’re really starting to see everything fitting the way we thought it would. Everyone is getting comfortable with everyone on the field and they kind of know how each other play. You can tell everybody’s getting along and everybody is having a good time. We hope that leads to lots of success.” 

The sophomores have Nevada looking like it did during its glory years of the late 1990s and 2000s when the Cubs went to state year after year and brought home one state championship. 

“The team I have around me, we’ve played together and then I split off and went to a club – but our chemistry is still all here,” Robinson said. “With the addition of Jose, Luis and the senior group we’re going to go very far.” 

Nevada has defeated fifth-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes, eighth-ranked Bondurant-Farrar and 16th-ranked Gilbert. The Cubs’ only loss is to seventh-ranked Adel-Desoto-Minburn. 

“I would say we’re playing really great,” Buenrrostro said. “This is just a small portion of what we can do.”