SAUGUS — When Jonathan Rodrigues first came to Saugus High School last year, he wasn’t sure if it was the right fit for him. One thing he was sure of, however, was that he wanted to play soccer for the Sachems.
“Last year was my first year at Saugus and it was an awful experience at first,” Rodrigues said. “I thought this school was too small and not right for me. All I thought about was playing soccer.
“When I first came here they had already done tryouts and I texted the coach (Larry Bolduc) about wanting to join the team,” Rodrigues said. “He didn’t know me at all and wanted to see how I played. I showed up, played well and became apart of the team.”
To say he “fit in well” is probably an understatement. Rodrigues led the team with 26 goals in 2017 and helped lead the Sachems to the Division 3 North state tournament for the first time in 20 years. Rodrigues made such an impact from the start that coach Larry Bolduc made him a focal point of the team’s offensive attack.
“As a coach I can tell pretty much what someones’ play style and what kind of player they are just from seeing them play a pickup game,” Bolduc said. “What I saw with him is that he can attack when he gets the ball so I changed everything to make it more where he’s a focal point, receiving the ball a little bit higher as an attacking midfielder where he can distribute it to our players.
“It worked really well,” Bolduc said. “We get him into positions where he can attack and go forward with the ball or he can distribute it to a wing or a midfielder. He has that skill set, if you don’t have that type of player you can’t do that but with him we can. I’ve never seen an offensive performance from a Saugus team like that. With him we can be a little bit more creative on offense.”
Rodrigues was also named a Eastern Massachusetts All-Star in 2017, an honor he wasn’t aware of before but an experience he enjoyed.
“I didn’t know that you can even be an Eastern Mass All-Star, I had never heard of it,” Rodrigues said. “It was my first year playing in the All-Star game and I met a lot of players. I didn’t play the best game but it was a great experience. I really want to be able to do that again.”
This fall Rodrigues will continue to be an offensive leader for Saugus after being named one of the three senior captains.
“Being a captain means a lot to me,” Rodrigues said. “I used to play in Brazil. I wasn’t a captain there and I didn’t have that confidence in myself. As a captain I think I can look forward with the team and have more patience and confidence and give more of myself on the field.”
Along with embracing his leadership role, Rodrigues has high personal goals for the season.
“Personally I want this to be one of my best seasons ever because its my last year as a senior,” Rodrigues said. “I have to play well to impress colleges. I want to break records this year if I can.”
Some of his motivation to perform at a high level and help carry his team into the playoff comes from last year’s 2-1 first-round loss in double-overtime against Dracut.
“It motivates us,” Rodrigues said of the loss. “I was really upset after that game. Soccer means alot to me. We made the playoffs and everybody was talking about us and we were all excited. We played a good game and got a little unlucky, they scored in the very last minutes.”
After accomplishing many of his goals and finding a place in the Saugus offense last season Rodrigues said he’s excited to get back on the field and and begin the road to another successful season with his teammates.
“Everything that I thought about accomplishing I already have done, being a captain, helping the team succeed and getting interest from colleges,” Rodrigues said. “I’m just excited to get out there and play ball.”