Joel Soto: At the center of Hartford's soccer success

Joel Soto has been a key player for Hartford soccer the last few seasons.

Joel Soto has been a part of Hartford’s back-to-back Division 4 boys soccer district titles. Now, as a senior, he’s looking to help make it three straight.

Soto is one of few key returners for the Indians’ boys soccer team, and has taken it upon himself to be a leader for the team in his final season.

“Joel is the type of player that makes everyone around him better,” Hartford coach Nick Blackmer said. “Not only is he a great soccer player, but his citizenship, attitude and academic commitment exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete.”

Soto is in the middle of the field for the Indians, and plays a key role in the team’s offense.

So far, Soto has scored eight goals and added four assists for Hartford in helping the Indians to a 4-3 record early in the season.

Soto mainly plays soccer at Hartford, though he said he might play basketball this season.

Outside of sports, Soto is active in both National Honor Society and Student Council.

When did you first start playing soccer?

I started playing when I was little, like when I was maybe five or six (years old). Right off the bat, I did AYSO. I started off from there, and then once I got to middle school I did some clubs, like SWM. In high school I transferred to Kingdom (in Kalamazoo).

What are your team’s goals for the season?

Try to go all out. Going to regionals again, since we lost so many seniors, it’s just one of those things where we still don’t know where we’re going to go. It just depends on our leadership. I’m one of the three captains.

Do you have a favorite player or somebody you model your game after?

I like Andrés Iniesta. He’s from Spain. He used to be a former player from Barcelona. He’s just a great leader and he’s not selfish. He’s not a top goal-scorer, but whenever the team needs a goal, if they need him, he just does it. I don’t know how, he’s just an amazing player.

What are your plans for after high school?

Next year, I’m just probably going to go to college. (I want to go to) Western (Michigan University) to study physical therapy.

Is there something you’d say is your favorite thing about playing soccer?

That it’s not a one-man team. Like in basketball you only have five players. In soccer, you need everyone to cooperate if you want to be successful. I like the team element, and I like how it makes me a better person when the team is better.

Contact: bspencer@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSpencer