Arrocena-Jacuinde expecting more responsibility in senior season with Generals

Stonewall's Juan Arrocena-Jacuinde takes a kick downfield as Page County's Joel McKay defends during a match last season in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG – Juan Arrocena-Jacuinde’s style of play on the soccer field doesn’t come with a whole lot of flash.

The Stonewall Jackson High School senior is more of the quiet type, Generals varsity boys soccer assistant coach/head junior varsity coach Marshall Howser said on Thursday afternoon, a player who does what’s asked of him without argument and who puts the betterment of the team above anything else.

“(He’s) just one of those that’s sort of off the radar until you need him to step up and do something,” Howser said, “and then he steps up and does it. He’s not in it for the glory, not in it for the headlines or anything like that, he’s just a good basic player.”

Over the past two seasons, Arrocena-Jacuinde has quietly emerged as the Generals’ top scoring option.

Since making a positional switch back into the field after starting at goalkeeper for Stonewall’s varsity squad as a freshman in 2015, Arrocena-Jacuinde has led the Generals in goals scored in each of the last two seasons, striking for nine goals as a sophomore and seven as a junior. He’s earned all-district/all-conference honors in each of his first three seasons at the varsity level.

Howser said Arrocena-Jacuinde’s technical skills are “beyond reproach,” and though the senior said he actually prefers stopping opponents’ shots to firing his own at the other team’s net, it was his ball skills that necessitated a move from goalkeeper into a more offensive-minded role in 2016.

“He actually did some keeper (on JV as an eighth grader) and I eventually had to get him out on the field simply because I needed him out there,” Howser said. “And the same thing with the varsity team. He’s a good goalkeeper and very reputable, but we’ve gotta get him out in the field.”

He will be expected to perform similarly on the field for a Generals squad breaking in a new head coach in Matt Burgwald and searching for its first winning season since 2014. He’ll also be asked to provide the team’s leadership as one of four Generals on this spring’s roster.

“Basically what I think Coach Burgwald’s gonna be looking for, being a senior member of the team, you’re looking for some leadership to step up and do something,” said Howser, who ran Thursday’s practice in Burgwald’s absence. “(Arrocena-Jacuinde’s) very capable of doing that.”

Arrocena-Jacuinde isn’t oblivious to the responsibilities that come with being not only a senior but also a four-year varsity starter. He said on Thursday afternoon that he knows the expectations from Stonewall’s coaching staff are high in regard to his leadership status, adding that “I feel like my part’s gonna be important.”

But, as has been the case with the rest of his Stonewall teammates, Arrocena-Jacuinde said he’s spent the first couple weeks of preseason practice becoming acclimated to Burgwald’s style as the Generals prepare for their season opener next Friday at home against Wilson Memorial.

“I think it’s been coming along,” Arrocena-Jacuinde said, adding that Burgwald wants the Generals to focus more on possession and playing at a slower pace than they played under former head coach Caleb Golladay. “Me and (Burgwald) have been talking a lot, trying to see what position I would be a best fit and I would ask questions about what he specifically wants.”

The plan is for Arrocena-Jacuinde to resume his midfield role this spring while also playing some on the wing, he said. His on-field responsibilities themselves won’t change much, he added, only that he’ll be doing so with less emphasis on pushing the pace of play.

Arrocena-Jacuinde said he required some readjusting after shifting away from goalkeeping as a sophomore, and he’s always learning and finding ways to make himself and the team better.

“I feel like I improved on my touches and on my passes,” he said. “More in the midfield you have to know everything and all, so I improved on my touches and more on my passing, like trying to get (the ball to a specific spot) and not just passing it wherever.”

His ability to facilitate scoring opportunities for his teammates is a primary focus for Arrocena-Jacuinde this season. He’s shown he can be the team’s No. 1 scoring option, but he knows he can’t be the team’s only scoring option.

“I’m trying to get the forwards scoring more goals than me,” said Arrocena-Jacuinde, who ranked second on the team with five assists last season. “I would believe they would try to rely on me for goals but there’s some points where I can’t, so I’m trying to get some other people to get goals.”

Arrocena-Jacuinde’s hope is that more goals will lead to more victories in 2018, something the Generals struggled to attain last year. Stonewall has yet to record a winning season during his varsity career.

“It’s been frustrating at times, yes, but we’re just trying to improve ourselves. Yeah, we get frustrated and all, but that’s when we have to build up on it, learn and be a better team,” Arrocena-Jacuinde said.

“I see pretty good potential,” he added. “Yeah, we have new people but they’re getting accustomed to it, and accustomed to a new coach, so I feel like we have a pretty good chance.”