Home Local News Band of Brothers: Lovington soccer roster has four sets of siblings

Band of Brothers: Lovington soccer roster has four sets of siblings

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LOVINGTON – Families live together, eat together, sleep under the same roofs.

They always have each other’s backs, and are sometimes at each other’s throats.

In especially athletic families, multiple siblings play sports. Often the same sport, at the same time.

Sometimes at an exponential level.

Such is the case with the Lovington boys soccer team. As the Wildcats made their second consecutive run to a state 4A championship game, they did so with four – count ‘em, four – sets of brothers on their roster.

And not every set has just a pair of brothers. There’s a trio of Contreras brothers on the team. Add that to the duo of Gallegos, Mendoza and Hernandez brothers, and there are nine Lovington players who each have a fraternal connection to at least one of the other nine.

That’s a lot of brothers.

There’s Christian, Lucas and Matthew Contreras. Kevin and Dylan Gallegos. Cristian and Alejandro Mendoza. Riley and Remy Hernandez.

Siblings, yes. But when it comes time to don the blue and white uniforms, lace up the cleats, when the scoreboard at Lovington High School’s Brian Urlacher Field has 40 minutes on it, and a ‘1’ to indicate the first half, the Contreras, Gallegos, Mendoza and Hernandez brothers become teammates – to everyone on the roster.

When it’s time to start the soccer game, there are 22 brothers on the field.

That’s not to say there aren’t some aspects that stand out about having that many biological siblings on one team.

“It almost guides itself,” Wildcats head coach Reyes

Marquez said, “because the younger brother usually looks up to the older brother. So we know the effort’s always going to be there. And it’s much easier for that kid because they know what we expect.”

And the positives don’t end there.

“There’s a sibling rivalry,” Marquez said, “but most of these brothers play different positions. We’re blessed; these young men come from great families, so it makes my job so much easier. I tell people, ‘I wish you could look through my lens as a coach.’”

Dylan Gallegos says that he and Kevin don’t talk much more than he thinks they would if they weren’t teammates.

“About the same,” Dylan said. “We do talk about playing hard.”

Alejandro Mendoza says there is an advantage to having his older brother Cristian on the team, which could also be looked at as a disadvantage – or vice versa.

“If I make a mistake,” Alejandro said, “he might yell at me.”

Matthew Contreras sees that as one of the few things he doesn’t like about having Christian and Lucas as teammates. “Probably them yelling at me,” Matthew said.

For the most part, though, the younger brothers look on it as an advantage.

“They try to help us as much as they can,” Remy Hernandez said, before adding, “Sometimes.”

The older brothers seem to like their situations, including the team’s one middle child, Lucas Contreras.

“You go from playing against each other on the street to playing on a high school team,” Lucas said. “You all have the same goal – to win a state championship.”

To elder statesman Christian Contreras, it’s a pretty good deal.

“I think it’s a unique experience,” Christian said. “Most teams don’t have four sets of brothers. And training with your brothers, you can’t get much better than that.”

“I think it’s cool,” Kevin Gallegos said, “because when we were smaller we used to play together. Now we prepare for games together.”

“It’s kinda cool,” Riley Hernandez said. “It brings a family bond to it.”

With age, though, comes responsibility. For instance?

“Making sure that he knows how to play,” Kevin Gallegos said, “that he doesn’t play scared.”

“On bus rides you’ve got to take care of them,” Cristian Mendoza said, “because your parents will be like, ‘Make sure he comes back safe.’”

However many relatives and non-relatives comprise Loving-ton’s roster, it’s a team with a reputation, a swagger. A team that went undefeated in District 4-4A the last four seasons. A team that followed up last spring’s state runner-up campaign with a 17-1 regular season this autumn, followed by another state title-game appearance that ended with a 3-2 loss to Albuquerque Academy in double overtime last Friday at the University of New Mexico.

It was enough of a reputation to hook Remy Hernandez, who says he only took up soccer a few months ago.

“Just because of their successful seasons,” Remy said. “I wanted to be on a winning team.”

But with that comes the pressure of success, of trying to carry it forward.

“We tell them, ‘Hey, enjoy it, embrace it,’” Marquez said. “We feel this program’s going to be left in some great hands.”

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