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Monte del Sol’s Luis Lozoya, left, battles St. Michael’s players for control of the ball in a 2011 game. Lozoya went on to play at Eastern New Mexico University and has coached youth soccer. He was hired as coach this spring at his alma mater.

What Luis Lozoya started almost a decade ago, he wants to finish for his alma mater.

Lozoya helped shape Monte del Sol’s boys soccer program into one of the best in Class 1A/3A as a player from 2009-13. Seven years later, he returns with big dreams and one goal in mind — to win the school’s first state championship — as he was hired as the Dragons’ head coach this spring.

Lozoya, who is the team’s fourth head coach in the past five years, replaces Victor Martin Gonzales, who led the Dragons to a 17-4 record last year, a second straight District 1-1A/3A title and a second straight semifinal appearance in his lone year at the helm.

The recent success Monte del Sol enjoyed fueled Lozoya’s motivation to bring his alma mater a blue trophy.

“My goal is to get us somewhere that I didn’t, which is the state championship,” Lozoya said. “That is what is on my mind. I never did it as a player, so I’m hungry. I want to do it as a coach this time.”

As a player, Lozoya set the bar high. He set the then-school scoring record of 28 goals in a season as the Dragons reached the Class 1A/3A semifinals for the first time in 2013. He parlayed that into a scholarship to Eastern New Mexico, becoming Monte del Sol’s first player to receive an athletic scholarship.

Chela Butler, Monte del Sol’s athletic director, said Lozoya has yet to be introduced to the team because the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools in March.

“He’s in a position to find out interest all through the internet and emails,” Butler said. “He’s trying to get what boys are interested in playing.”

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Some players are already familiar with Lozoya, who was their coach in youth soccer. It also helps that one of the Dragons’ top returning players is his brother, senior-to-be midfielder Axel Lozoya. Another brother, Freddy, will be in seventh grade this fall.

Lozoya said his familiarity with the returning players should help him and the team get on the same page more easily.

“I see a lot of potential for more success,” he said. “Some of these kids have been playing together since they were 9 and 10 years old, and I’ve seen them play and grow.”

One area that Lozoya said he will focus on is discipline, especially conditioning. He admitted he was not prepared for the level of play and the amount of work it took when he went to ENMU.

Lozoya wants to instill that work ethic in the Dragons in the hopes of helping them not only win a championship, but also seek to play beyond the prep level like he did.

“We have to implement a little bit of discipline in terms of how we play the game,” Lozoya said. “They say that simple soccer is the best way to play, but it is also the hardest thing to do.”

Lozoya hopes it can light the path to a glorious 2020 season.

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Nick Rivera

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