© 2024. Randolph Hub. All Rights Reserved.


Christian Ortiz scored 36 goals his senior season for the Blue Comets and was selected for the East-West All-Star Game.   Eric Abernethy/Randolph Hub

All-Star game bound

ASHEBORO — Calvin Smith and Cristian Ortiz may have experienced different paths in getting to the starting lineup for the Asheboro High School varsity soccer team, but after graduating this past season, both are ending up at the same place and with the exact same honor.


Both Blue Comet soccer players have been named to the East-West All-Star Game and will represent the West team at the annual event, scheduled for Tuesday, July 18, at MacPherson Stadium at Bryan Park in Browns Summit. 


The girls all-star match is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. and the boys at about 8:30 p.m.


It is believed to be the first time two players from AHS were invited to the prestigious soccer event.


Ortiz, a striker, saw very little time in his junior campaign, scoring three goals and adding two assists. The Blue Comets had a wealth of upperclassmen that year as they finished 8-0-2 in the Mid-Piedmont Conference and 14-2-3 overall.


“We tell players, especially the juniors who might not be seeing the field much and may be getting frustrated, to take the opportunity to listen to the coaches and to what the upperclassmen are showing you,” AHS coach Nick Arroyo said. “See the things that we are yelling at them about and when you get your opportunity, show us you’ve been listening. Basically, learn from the upperclassmen. 


“It might be a tough pill to swallow as a junior who has to sit out most of the season, but for someone like Cristian, he took advantage of what he saw and showed what he can do. I tell them all the time  to show us they were listening.”


Ortiz was listening. In his senior campaign he scored 36 goals and added eight assists as the Blue Comets again went undefeated in MPC play at 9-0-1 and finished 19-1-2 in the regular season. The Blue Comets then advanced to the regional finals, finishing 23-2-2 on the season, including playoff victories over West Mecklenburg (9-0), West Henderson (2-1), West Iredell (3-0) and East Lincoln (2-1) before falling to eventual state 3-A champion Hickory (2-1) in the state semifinals. 


AHS outscored opponents 102-15 during the season.


“During summer workouts, we saw it coming,” Arroyo said of Ortiz’s transformation. “We knew he would score goals. But we weren’t thinking all-state and make the East-West All-Star Game. He outshined everyone’s expectations.”


Ortiz said he was surprised by the honor.


“It is very exciting, I didn’t expect it,” he said. “It really shows that hard work pays off. I worked hard in the offseason. It was pretty difficult not playing that much my junior year. I just saw the older boys and how they played and learned from them and asked a lot of questions.”


Ortiz became a team leader.


“If we need to do something different, we don’t have to take him off the field,” Arroyo said. “We can tell him on the side and he immediately puts it into play. He is so coachable and being coachable is more than just being on the field and being a good player. It’s taking criticism and doing something positive with it.”

Ortiz may have had to wait a little longer than he  hoped to contribute, but once he earned the opportunity, he certainly took advantage.


Smith’s opportunity came a bit earlier. After spending his freshman year on the jayvee team, he started every game as a sophomore during the COVID-shortened season.


“Calvin started off his freshman year before I came here, he was a  jayvee player and we transitioned him to right back on defense, outside back, and he started every game. His junior year, we moved him to center back and he is the epitome of a hard worker. You drive by the field, he was there. From the time he was a freshman and I saw him play on jayvee up until his senior year, he doesn't look like the same player.”


Smith was the MPC defensive player of the year and earned a number of regional honors as well. 


“His work ethic is so unlike what you see in high school,” Arroyo said. “He was our anchor. We started our possessions in the back, we possessed it wide and through the defense, He was our captain. Calvin was our vocal captain, giving instructions to players. He took the team on his back.”


Smith is heading to Chowan after a stellar prep career at AHS.


“I’m just super excited and proud to be a part of it,” Smith said of the East-West Game. “It’s special, I’m super excited and ready to go.”


Smith has spent his summer at a landscaping job and working out. Chowan sent him a weight and conditioning program and between his job and getting ready for Chowan, he’s been busy. But he’ll always remember his senior season at AHS.


“Just hanging out with teammates and how we brought the community together, it made me proud,” he said.


Having two players from AHS named to the all-star squad bodes well for the program.


“Something we pride ourselves on is work,” Arroyo said. “There could have been two or three more players, but they have to spread the love. It’s a matter of work ethic and we will push them and push them, but really, it’s on the players. We can yell what to do, but until players have the mindset that they are going to push. For Calvin and for Cristian and really all our seniors, they had that mindset.”


A mindset that has led them to the East-West All-Star Game.