FRESNO — César Castillo and Beau Díaz have no trouble trading off the Fresno Fuego’s starting goalie position.
Díaz has been a four-year player with the Fuego, Castillo just four matches.
And while strikers Paul Islas and Tyler Reinhart are scoring goals for the 8-0-1 Fuego, who is first place in the Premier Development League’s Southwest Division, it’s Castillo and Díaz guarding the box.
In the Fuego’s 3-1 win last Saturday night against visiting FC Tucson, Díaz played the entire 90 minutes. In Fresno’s 2-0 win over visiting Blue Star-Strikers last Thursday, Castillo was in the box.
Fuego captain Gastón Cignetti said both goalies are well-respected by the entire coaching staff and equally capable on the field.
“We hae two goalkeepers who are very strong, so we’re alternating,” said Cignetti, the team’s longest-standing active player.
“We like them both and they’re going to be working hard. We know Beau Díaz a little more because he’s been with us six years.”
“It’s a collective team effort to go out there and win soccer games. Every night, no matter who is in the net, we’re confident that we can win soccer games,” said Díaz.
Díaz, 22, suited up for the University of Louisville from 2009 to 2012, then a semester at Fresno City College, and currently at Sonoma State University.“I have one more year of college eligibility, and I will play at Sonoma State,” he said.
Castillo made the connection to Fresno through an e-mail to Fuego manager Jeremy Schultz in early Spring. Schultz invited the Sacramento State University goalie to work out and play a couple matches in the Spring Combine.
“I hope to one day play professionally. I know the Fresno Fuego is a very good team to slingshot you to the pros. I feel it's a good way to get exposed,” said Castillo, 20, and who played with Blue Star last year in the PDL.
Castillo, like many top players in the Central Valley, is also considering the First Division squad being organized in Sacramento. He practiced with National Premier Soccer League's 2010 national champion Sacramento Gold, but did not officially become rostered.
Being from San Rafael, Castillo chose to play closer to home for the Bay Area Ambassadors in the NPSL.Castillo expects to play every match at Sacramento in the upcoming season. He did not play any matches as a junior, but started every match his freshman season and about half the season as a sophomore.
During his freshman season, after winning the NPSF Division, Sacramento defeated Santa Clara in the first round in the NCAA Tournament. UCLA defeated Sacramento in the second round. Sacramento ended last season losing in the semifinals to the University of California, Davis.
On the departure of Gilberto Vega, the Fuego’s goalie the last four years, Cignetti said, “He was great; his leadership was great. He was a great friend and we're missing him. We hope he takes care of the family situation, and next year, hopefully he's back with us.”
Vega was handpicked from the Fresno-based adult soccer league, Valley United Soccer League’s Club Italia.
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