Eduin DelCid didn’t know what to do the first time he stepped up to take a penalty kick for Woodlawn three years ago.
Up until that point, DelCid only played pickup games in the streets of his hometown of Puerto Cortes, Honduras, where anything goes. The closest thing to formal training he received was watching soccer on television and then trying to recreate what he saw.
On this day, he chose to imitate Brazilian national team captain Neymar’s creative approach to running on to a penalty kick — hip twists, leg swings and all.
“In the street, you do whatever you want. You (copy) past players and all that stuff,” DelCid said. “… The first day, (Woodlawn coach Andrew Barnes) told me to take the PK and I was doing the PK, but like how Neymar does.
“(Barnes) came up and told me, ‘You have to hit it.’ But I couldn’t understand him.”
DelCid had only been in America for a few months at that time and didn’t speak a word of English.
When Barnes handed out jersey numbers, DelCid had to have a teammate translate his preference.
On the field, he could only communicate with the handful of players who also spoke Spanish, forcing Barnes to create a relay system between bilingual players just to make simple coaching adjustment.
“I didn’t know anything,” DelCid joked.
Three years later, and DelCid’s English is getting better each day. He’s now more than capable of holding a full conversation and his ability to communicate with his coach and teammates isn’t a concern.
As for the transition from his street ball days, DelCid is completely fluent in the language of American high school soccer.
DelCid leads the Panthers with 49 goals in 18 games this season, including 12 straight games registering at least a hat trick, twice scoring six or more goals. Woodlawn is undefeated during the stretch.
By comparison, No. 10 Woodlawn’s quarterfinals opponent in the Division II playoffs, No. 2 Captain Shreve, as a team, scored 66 goals over 19 total games this season. No. 6 Holy Cross netted 55 goals in 26 games.
By himself, DelCid has scored more goals this postseason (10) than every other individual team in all four boys divisions. However, it should be noted the top eight seeds in each bracket received a first-round bye.
DelCid said he tries not to get caught up in statistics, and that his only concern is having fun out on the field, but it’s to the point where the rest of the Panthers are more surprised when he doesn’t score than when he does.
“Everytime I give it to him, he makes something happen,” Woodlawn freshman and assists leader Jacob Barnes said. “He either puts it in the back of the net or he lays it off to someone else. It just gives me confidence to know that I’m giving the ball off to someone who knows what they’re going to do with it.”
Andrew Barnes said he’s noticed a distinct uptick in the amount of attention DelCid receives from opposing defenses over the course of the season as his reputation — and stats — grew.
Teams come into games knowing to watch out for “that little short dude.”
But defending DelCid is easier said than done.
DelCid may be fluent in American soccer, but he hasn’t forgotten his roots in the streets of Honduras.
“It’s like the Brazilians,” Andrew Barnes said. “The Brazilians play in the streets because they love the game.
“If you watch Eduin when he gets the ball, it’s all about being creative with it, juggling, crazy shots. If he thinks he can take three people on, I’m not going to be the one yelling to pass the ball.”