For the love of the game: Passionate Islas-Aguirre is PB All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year
'The most dangerous attacking player in southeastern Minnesota,' few possessed the 'it' factor like Mayo senior Bryan Islas-Aguirre, our All-Area Player of the Year.
There are many impressive characteristics to Bryan Islas-Aguirre's game that even the most casual of soccer fans can see.
From his ability to play with the ball like a yo-yo, to his ability to see a through pass that others simply wouldn’t.
But the one aspect that stands out the most?
His obvious love for the game.
“He always enjoyed the game with such a positive energy, determination and a smile on his face,” John Marshall coach Abdul Noor said. “It was a joy to watch him play.”
For Islas-Aguirre, soccer brings him back to the times of third grade — his earliest memories of his father taking him and his brother to the soccer fields whenever they had the chance. His father, as well as his mother, worked and still does multiple jobs, but always made time to go to the soccer fields.
That was never lost on their son.
“Life was really busy for them,” Islas-Aguirre said. “But whenever we would have the chance we would make it work. Even if my dad had his morning job or even if he did have to work his afternoon job, he would take time out of his day, just to come kick a ball with us. And honestly, I’m just so grateful for that.”
Islas-Aguirre tried to capture that whenever he played, leading him to become a prominent member for a talented Mayo boys soccer program.
As a senior this fall, it led him to be the best in southeastern Minnesota.
Among a talented pool of finalists that included Lourdes senior defender McKaid Schotzko and Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa senior midfielder Brandt Konik, Islas-Aguirre has been chosen as the 2022 Post Bulletin All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
It comes on the heels of a season in which his coach Tim Jennings called him the most “dangerous attacking player in southeastern Minnesota.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
Islas-Aguirre netted 15 goals and dished out 10 assists, while helping the Spartans reach the Class AAA state tournament for the second consecutive year. The senior could play anywhere in the midfield — in the middle, either wings — doing it with such a precision, it kept opposing coaches up at night.
“A quick and skilled player,” Century coach Hal Houghton said. “When he plays on the outside, he makes guys pay in the 1-vs.-1s. He is able to get defenders to reach and then he makes them pay. Against us, it resulted in goals.”
To be fair to Houghton and Century, many opponents had trouble stopping Islas-Aguirre from finding the back of the net.
For his varsity career that began as a freshman, Islas-Aguirre scored 30 goals to go along with 17 assists — numbers he still can’t believe he produced.
As an eighth-grader, Islas-Aguirre didn’t even go out for the Mayo team and as a freshman he was just happy to be playing on the C squad. But later that year legendary Mayo soccer coach Dr. Charles Abboud made the decision to pull him up to varsity.
In his first varsity game, he found the back of the net.
“An amazing moment,” Islas-Aguirre said.
He became a prominent figure for the Spartans for the next four seasons, making a name for himself last year as a junior. He was named Class AAA First-Team All-State as Mayo made it back to the state tournament for the first time since 2015.
Still, he found extra motivation to get better.
He pushed himself, listening to many who were questioning if the Spartans could replicate the previous season’s success.
“People were asking us questions, because we didn’t have Yonis (Muse) or Jack (Hobday), like certain players, how were we going to move on,” Islas-Aguirre said. “When people asked me that, I just told them wait and see.”
The Spartans became a must-see, playing a beautiful brand of soccer to resemble a well-oiled machine.
Islas-Aguirre credited a number of people, but specifically Kymani Chitulangoma, who moved from the midfield to striker this season.
The junior ended up being the perfect complement.
The two connected often, with Chitulangoma netting a team-best 16 goals.
"Kymani, him being up top that was huge for us," Islas-Aguirre said.
It led to a magical season that ended with a 1-0 defeat to Maple Grove in the Class AAA state quarterfinals, a game in which the Spartans had many opportunities, but just came up short.
Islas-Aguirre, understandably, took it hard.
He's not sure what his future holds. He's hoping to play soccer in some capacity, but is focused on just going to school.
Regardless, playing with that "M" across his heart was a privilege — one that he will take with him moving forward.
"It was an honor to represent Rochester, to represent Mayo," Islas-Aguirre said. "Where we're from, it's just an honor for sure."