For Wilcox junior Brian Montiel, his game-winning goal with less than 10 minutes remaining against Cupertino on Jan. 17 was more than just a goal. It was a moment he will never forget.
“It was a really special goal. That day was a hard day,” noted the junior forward. “You never imagine yourself having to put one of your best friends in a box. But the goal felt really good, it felt like he was there right next to me as I scored.”
Earlier that day Montiel attended the funeral for his 17-year-old cousin, Brian Ibarra Casillas, who tragically lost his life in a car accident on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 7. According to the Mercury News, Ibarra Casillas lost control of his Acura Integra at the corner of Bowers and Monroe, just blocks from Wilcox High School. His Integra collided with a Toyota Highlander. Four people in the Highlander were transported to the hospital with moderate injuries.
“A lot of kids were really shook up when it happened, especially with the proximity to school,” noted Chargers Head Soccer Coach Tomas Montes. “A lot of my players live close to school, so a number of kids were aware of what had happened pretty early on and it had a pretty devastating effect on them because I think they knew the gravity of the situation.”
According to the head coach, about eight total players attended the funeral for Ibarra Casillas, which took place the day of Wilcox’s game against Cupertino. Coach Montes told all of them it was up to them if they wanted to play that night, but they all wanted to show up and play for their friend, one whom many had played soccer with in the past.
“We all went through a lot, it hit the team pretty hard when we heard the news,” commented Chargers goalkeeper Jaxon Roby. “We were definitely playing that game for Brian that night. I don’t think it could have gone any better for Brian to score that goal. When he scored, we all instantly ran up the field. We were elated. We were so happy.”
“I knew what that goal meant to Brian and the team,” added coach Montes. “I think that was as excited as I have ever seen these guys for a goal or moment on the field. It really brought the whole team together, a moment of like ‘we did this for you.’ And for that to be the game-winning goal on that day, in that moment, at the end of the game, it was like it was supposed to happen.”
According to the Wilcox players, Ibarra Casillas was a popular student who had participated in soccer both at Wilcox and Santa Clara high. Montiel remembers growing up as kids and practicing boxing with his cousin.
“We would always box for fun. We would go in the backyard at either his house or mine and we would just start swinging at each other with some boxing gloves on. I remember it was amazing and fun. Good memories for sure.”