CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College men's soccer team leaned heavily on an experienced and talented defensive unit in 2018 en route to a 13-5-1 record and miniscule 1.23 goals against average.
On Thursday, the T-Birds saw one of those players rewarded for his efforts as sophomore Leonardo Santiago signed with York College in Nebraska, a NAIA institution in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
"York has a good soccer program. I really liked the coach (Alex Latorre) and his goals. He wants to get to nationals," Santiago said. "He's a Brazilian coach and he knows what he's doing. I think it's a great program. I feel comfortable there."
Santiago began his career at Cloud County in 2016-17, finishing his freshman season with three goals and two assists in 19 appearances.
After taking the 2017-18 academic year off, he return to the T-Birds for 2018-19 and helped anchor a back row alongside fellow sophomores Tales Avila and Wanes Hobat, who signed to play at Oral Roberts University back in December.
"I think Leo is going to be an immediate impact player for York. He's an outstanding outside back or outside midfielder," said Cloud County head coach, Charles Long. "It's neat for us to see him take a year off then come back and dominate the way he did. Any team that saw us play noticed our outside backs, with him on one side and Wanes on the other."
Long added he is confident a professional career could be in the cards for Santiago once he finishes his Business degree and returns to Brazil.
"I see him long term playing professional Futsal," said Long, referring to the five-on-five game played mainly on indoor hard courts. "Right now he's focused on his degree, but I think he could go back to Brazil after and play professionally because he is amazing when you get him on the small court."