By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
The top scorer and top defender on Carthage High School’s state runner-up boys soccer team will continue to be teammates.
Ismael Serratos and Missael Maturino signed letters-of-intent Friday morning to play soccer at Neosho County Community College in Chanute, Kan.
They will be part of a building process as Neosho County looks to improve on last season’s 7-7-3 record.
“We’re bringing in a lot of freshmen to the team,” said coach Johnny Adame, a 2004 Joplin High School graduate. “We’ll have close to 20 freshmen coming in, so we’re looking to rebuild the program and take it a different direction. To compete for a conference championship is the ultimate goal.”
Serratos and Maturino didn’t set out to sign with the same school. It just worked out that way.
“We talked about it ... if we went to the same school it would be sweet,” Serratos said. “I decided that I was going to go play at Neosho County before he did. About three weeks after I decided, he decided and he never brought it up to me. So it was sort of a surprise. I was really happy about that.”
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to go, then I was like I really want to go play soccer with my friend,” Maturino said.
Serratos was the Tigers’ offensive player of the year the last three seasons and set school career records with 95 goals and 28 assists. He earned all-state honors the last two years and was named state player of the year after his senior season.
“I had three other colleges that were looking at me, but Neosho County fit me the best,” he said. “Just the amount of interest that coach Johnny Adame had in us, he started recruiting us since district playoffs. He was interested in us from the get-go and kept in touch. He was real welcoming, and the college visit he set us up with was great.”
“One of Ismael’s strength is his motor,” Tigers coach Jacob Osborne said. “He just keeps going and plays extremely hard.”
Maturino was Carthage’s defensive player of the year the past two seasons and was an all-stater after his senior campaign.
“I thought (Neosho County) was a really good fit coming out of high school,” he said. “It’s a nice college. I know the coaches well. I thought it would be a good fit.”
“Missael’s calmness (is a strength),” Osborne said. “Very calm on the ball, he’s calm under pressure. He doesn’t get rattled and as a defender, that’s huge for us.”
“Everything excites me about these two players,” Adame said. “They are dynamic players. They are game changers. When they are in the game, you can expect great things from them. Ismael is one of the best goal scorers in Missouri, and Missael is great on the ball, great vision in the field. They are great with their academics, so they have the total package.”