Rams’ Medrano brothers use strong bond on soccer field

Josh Medrano , left, and his brother Alex, right, run after a ball during soccer practice at Strasburg Town Park on Wednesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Oftentimes Alex and Josue Medrano are the best of friends on the field for Strasburg’s boys soccer team, and they share a bond that only can exist between brothers. Other times, they are each other’s greatest enemy.

Josue, a junior and the younger of the two, admits there are times when his older brother tries to “show me up,” adding that there are moments when he and Alex get legitimately mad at each other on the field. But at the end of the day, there is always that mutual respect and an unrivaled confidence between the two.

“I have more trust in my brother than almost any other player I’ve ever played with,” Alex, a senior, said after practice Wednesday evening. “We pretty much started playing at the same time. We like to have fun. Sometimes he’s my number one rival. Sometimes he’s my best friend on the field. So it builds us together and we keep growing upon that.”

The Medrano brothers proved to be a key duo for the Rams last season, as the two combined to score nine of the team’s 21 goals in 2015. Josue, a forward, tied for the team lead with five goals and chipped in three assists, while Alex, primarily a center back along Strasburg’s defensive line, scored four goals.

Twice last season, both scored at least one goal in the same game, including in the season-opening win over Manassas Park, a victory head coach Joel Ross considers a milestone win for the program.

“We’ve built a lot of chemistry upon the years just because we know each other very well,” Alex said. “There’s sometimes where I just know where he’s at, he knows where I’m at. He knows when I’m gonna do something and we don’t even have to speak to each other sometimes.”

Because the two play vastly different positions, their playing styles vary. Josue is the smoother player, Alex says, while Josue considers his older brother to be the more aggressive one.

The Medranos often find themselves teaching each other new things on the soccer field as a result.

“He pushes me a lot and that helps a lot,” Josue said. “Especially on the field, those guys (opponents), they go 10 times more aggressive and getting used to that (playing with Alex) has been good.”

That ability to learn from each other was a key part of the Medranos’ transition into high school soccer. Josue said he and his brother grew up playing pickup soccer games with their friends at the park, but neither had played organized soccer until they were old enough to join Strasburg High School’s junior varsity team.

After a season of JV, Alex was promoted to the Rams’ varsity squad as a freshman in 2012, while Josue joined his brother during his ninth-grade year a season later. Both said the rapid transition, first to organized soccer and then to the varsity level, was a tough one at first.

“I was doing rookie mistakes, things that I shouldn’t be doing,” Alex said. “The seniors at that time, they would help me a lot and that helped me build as a player every single year. I’ve grown a lot as a player.”

The Medranos will now be expected to help lead the Rams in 2016 as part of an experienced core of players that have been competing together for several years. Ross said the brothers are part of a collection of juniors and seniors that have been varsity starters since their freshmen seasons.

“Throughout the years we’ve all played together and seeing us kind of evolve into better players is kind of cool,” Josue said. “We wanna do the best we can and everybody improving, that just makes it a lot easier.”

That improvement showed on the field, as Strasburg went 4-12-2 in 2015. The four wins were the most for the Rams since Ross’ first season as head coach in 2010.

“There’s definitely a lot of things to improve,” Josue said. “We’re not satisfied with last year. But last year we did learn a lot, to work more as a team together, and it did turn out better to have a lot of communication.”

Ross said the Rams placed a heavy emphasis on possession and passing last season, a focus that has continued with success into preseason practice this year. He added that he’s also encouraged by the physical growth of some of his younger players.

“A lot of these guys that were already starting are coming back and they’re just – it’s not like they’re different players than they were last year, (but) they’re bigger, faster, stronger,” Ross said. “They’re just more serious players all the sudden and that’s exciting to see that progression from the end of last year to the beginning of this year.”

Strasburg also returns the bulk of its offensive output from a season ago, as Jacob Knapp (five goals in 2015), Adam Bodge (two goals) and Cody Brill (two goals) were underclassmen last season along with the Medranos. Ross said senior keeper Damion Howard-Wolford also returns, giving the Rams their first two-year starter in goal since Ross took over the program.

“The biggest thing is I’ve got almost my entire offensive starting lineup back,” said Ross, whose team opens the 2016 season with a home match against Skyline on March 21. “They’re a year older, they’re a year faster, they’re a year stronger. Usually that leads to more goals. … I’m feeling hopeful but I never wanna assume too much so we’ll keep working hard.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com