Fernando del Castillo’s father played professional soccer.
He taught his son the game, and del Castillo developed his playing style from those lessons. He learned he could always try to go one-on-one, to try to beat opponents to create opportunities for himself and his teammates.
And that was on display Tuesday night as del Castillo helped the State College boys’ soccer team to a 6-0 win over Altoona in the District 6 Class AAAA championship at Bald Eagle Area’s Alumni Stadium.
Del Castillo scored two goals in the second half and assisted on another as the Little Lions ran away with the win. Eli Bokunewicz and Devin Morrisson each scored to give the Little Lions a 2-0 lead in the first half. Jacob Krantweiss and Marc Rodgers added goals in the second half for the Little Lions (13-6).
State College won its sixth straight district championship, and will meet McDowell of Erie in a PIAA sub-regional on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
The dominant performance came after State College lost 1-0 to Altoona earlier this season.
“This one’s special for us because again, we lost to Altoona a couple weeks ago so to come back and win to try to get that sixth in a row was special for us,” State College coach Danny Orton said. “More importantly, we’ve won district titles here in the last six years — five years for me — where we’ve not necessarily played that well, and I thought tonight was one of our best District 6 performances so I was really happy for the players.”
Bokunewicz got the Little Lions on the board less than seven minutes into the game.
“Really I think it relaxed us a bit because at the beginning of the game I could see the tension between the players,” del Castillo said. “Because we had already played Altoona and we had already lost, so we weren’t sure what we were going to see but I think after Eli scored, we kind of settled down and we saw that this was a winnable game and that we could do it.”
The Little Lions controlled play and added to their lead when Morrisson found the back of the net with 47 seconds left in the first half.
State College turned the game into a rout in the second half.
Del Castillo keyed the effort with back-to-back goals and an assist.
After scoring his first goal with less than 28 minutes left, he chipped a shot with his left foot into the back of the net to make it 4-0 with 26:16 left.
Less than five minutes later, he found Krantweiss for a goal.
Orton said del Castillo plays with a “street soccer” flair.
He has good awareness and can dribble past opponents to score and distribute.
“Fernando’s got those special skills and vision and when he’s got the space to do what he wants to do, he can hurt teams,” Orton said. “I was really pleased for him tonight. He played well. That’s probably his best game of the year.”
Del Castillo was happy to help his team capture a title Tuesday night.
Now, he’s hoping to repeat that type of effort as the Little Lions continue their postseason run.