Cristofer Abarca’s guessing game proved right Thursday.
The Branson sophomore forward collected two goals, both off of rebounds, to power the Pirates past Cassville 3-1.
Abarca put himself in position to be at the right spot at the right time with his relentless movement away from the ball.
“Coach (David Brenner) is always telling us to follow through and get the ball,” Abarca said. “You never know where the rebounds are going to go. You have to follow through and sometimes guess where the ball is going to go.”
Brenner appreciated Abarca’s efforts.
“Cris is a goal scorer,” Brenner said. “He’s the kind of kid who finds the ball whenever it is in front of the net. We preach all the time, ‘Don’t stop your run just because someone else takes a shot and keep following because they could be a rebound.’
“Cris got his goals because he worked hard. We expect those kind of things from him. When you work hard, you get rewarded.”
The Pirates (10-3) have six in a row. But Brenner felt his forwards weren’t quite giving themselves enough opportunities to score.
“Our forwards had gotten a little stagnant, so we talked to them about movement,” Brenner said. “We tended to get to where we were watching. Once we got that out of our heads and started moving, we created opportunities.”
Abarca has seven goals, to go along with four assists, in his first season playing varsity ball. His older brother, Danifer, also played for the Pirates, before graduating two years ago.
“If you had them stand beside each other, you probably wouldn’t know they are brothers,” Brenner said. “Danifer is taller and a defender/keeper, while Cris is all about speed.
“Cris has been around the program for a long time. He’s heard the way we talk. He played middle school ball for us and was a great leader on the jayvee last year. He’s carried that over to this year.”
Branson also received a goal Thursday from Nino Stiglianese.
The Pirates have had 10 players post at least one goal.
“It’s hard to keep track of our scoring because we have had so many people score,” Brenner said.
“We had good teammates coming up, so I thought we would do something fantastic this season,” Abarca said.
Branson (10-3) meet traditional powers Carthage and Springfield Catholic next week.
“This is when it kicks into gear,” Brenner said. “It’s put up or shut up time for us. We think this may be our year.”