Melena, a goalie and forward on the Falcon varsity soccer team, can easily kick a soccer ball on a free kick more than 60 yards. While his impressive leg does grab attention, it isn’t the only thing that makes him a good soccer player.
“He’s a senior; he’s a leader; he’s a good goalkeeper,” said senior center Alex Hernandez. “We were all quiet in our freshman year and now that we’re all seniors, we have got to take over. He’s one of the captains.”
While Melena enjoys playing forward and goaltender equally, he identifies himself as a better goalie, having played there most of his life. On the Freedom squad, Melena splits time in the net with sophomore Christopher Contreras.
Head coach Martin Contreras also believes Melena is a more effective goalie than forward, but that his star needs to improve his conditioning and hunger for playing time. Despite that, the coach is convinced that if Melena works out those kinks, he’ll be able to play at the next level. “He’s got good height, and that’s what a lot of the college coaches look for,” said Contreras. “He’s got strength. The way he kicks the ball is amazing.”
Both Melena and Contreras agree with Hernandez that Melena’s greatest strengths are his leadership and communication skills.
“I communicate with the whole team. I’m the one in charge because I can see the whole field,” said Melena. “I’ve improved a lot – I used to be the quiet one. Last year, I started being more in charge and now I am probably the loudest one here.”
In addition to his prowess in football and soccer, Melena wants to try his hand at tennis in the spring. Despite branching out to other sports, he hopes to get scholarship offers in soccer so he can continue in the game he’s played since age 4.
Despite Melena’s sparkling play, the Falcons’ early season road has been rough. Losses against tough East Bay Athletic League opponents has tarred Freedom with an 0-5 record.