Monarchs soccer, Eritrean standout look to knock off powerhouse Knights

The Meadowbrook boys’ soccer team is operating ‘under the radar. Meadowbrook, typically a football and a basketball school, is not known for it’s spring sports prowess. It’s time to take notice.

The Monarchs are currently 10-1-2 overall and 9-1-2 in the Central District, good for second place behind the perennial favorite Thomas Dale Knights. A big reason for the team’s

heightened success has been sophomore midfielder Yafet Teklemikael who hails from the tiny country of Eritrea in northeastern Africa.

“His skill and teamwork are incredible,” said senior midfielder and team captain Franky Alvarado. “He’s so calm with the ball and such a great communicator on the field.”

Eritrea is a third-world nation of six million that borders Sudan and Ethiopia. Soccer and cycling are the most popular sports in the country, and soccer is something that Teklemikael has played since he was four years old.

“All we did at home was play soccer,” said Teklemikael. “My older brother got me into soccer and I grew up playing because of him,” he continued. “Soccer is spending time with your friends and having fun.”

After spending time in Romania, Teklemikael came to America in 2011 and was in foster care. Last year, he moved to a group home in the Meadowbrook district, beginning life as a Monarch this year.  

“What Yafet has overcome in his life is incredible,” said Meadowbrook soccer head coach Billy Rudd. “He’s already accomplished more than some kids his age in a very small amount of time; he’s done very well.”

The midfield combination of Tekelmikael and Alvarado is one of the best in the region. Teklemikael has totalled 22 goals and 13 assists, and Alvarado has scored eight goals and tallied 21 assists.

“Yafet knows how to play; he’s great with his fast touches,” said Rudd. “He sees the game three steps ahead and that enables him to communicate and get his teammates in the right places at the right times.”

The sophomore has fit right in at Meadowbrook as he holds an A/B average and is a favorite of his teammates.

Rudd pointed out that his team is a very tight knit group off the field, and that type of chemistry is needed in order for the Monarchs to take the next step and beat Thomas Dale.

“I want to beat Thomas Dale,” said Telkemikael. “They are the best team, and you always want to beat the best.”

The program has been on the uptick the past few seasons, starting with the teams that former Spanish teacher Justin Beck coached. Last year, the Monarchs finished fourth in the district. This year, they have a chance to win it.

Rudd has been mentored by Thomas Dale head coach Mark Fowler, and knows what it’s going to take to beat the Knights. In their first meeting, the Monarchs fell 5-3 with Dale not fielding many of their academy players. The Monarchs will get a chance to avenge that loss at Thomas Dale this Thursday, May 9 at 6:30pm.

“What Fowler has done with that program is amazing,” said Rudd. “His knowledge for the game is incredible,” he stated. “Our biggest challenge is with our size; we’ll need to win the balls in the air.”

With Teklemikael and Alvarado leading the way, the Monarchs are looking to win the district and qualify for the Central Region tournament and continue the program’s upswing.

For continued updates on spring sports as district and region tournaments approach, follow us on Twitter @VNewsSports.

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