Concordia Prep soccer star Taylor Calheira won a ball at midfield, beat a couple of John Carroll players and threaded a pass to his younger brother, Ryan, whose finish was just as accurate, for a Saints goal earlier this season.
The sequence was beautiful soccer, something coach Adauto Neto was pleased to see. As their proud father, he was even happier with what his sons did next.
“They ran up to each other smiling and hugged,” said Neto, the former Baltimore Blast star who is in his sixth season as coach at Concordia. “That moment is going to be with me forever. The goals, the assists, the wins and losses are part of the game. But all the moments they are having together now is what’s going to be with me for the rest of my life and I want them to feel the same way.”
Time and again, Neto has reiterated to his sons the unique opportunity they have this season. A four-year varsity forward and captain, 17-year-old Taylor will be headed to UMBC to play next year. Ryan, 14, is a freshman who earned a starting position alongside his brother on the Saints’ front line. They have kicked the ball around plenty over the years, but this is the first time they have played on the same team, and having their father coach them completes the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The whole family together, it feels good,” Taylor said. “I just want to create as many memories as we can and build a stronger relationship. I also want to help my brother, mentor him a little bit, because I’m a senior and he’s a freshman and has a lot to learn to become better. I think it will help me and I know my Dad will help us get through that, too.”
When Taylor and Ryan were younger, some of their best soccer memories took place at Royal Farms Arena, where they watched their father do his thing for the Blast.
Neto, a native of Brazil, had two stints with the team (2005-08 and 2010-15) and dazzled his sons and the crowd with his creative offensive skills, scoring over 100 goals.
Now, he gets to watch his sons play, and he sees a lot of him in them.
Taylor has an advanced technical game with creative playmaking ability and a natural feel for scoring goals. Ryan brings a more direct approach with power getting to the goal. Through the preseason and the first couple of regular-season games, the two have proven to be a lethal combination for the defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference champions.
In a season-opening 6-4 win over A Conference foe John Carroll, they accounted for all six goals with Taylor providing four goals and two assists and Ryan tallying two goals and two assists.
On Sept. 11, the Saints opened league play by claiming a 6-0 win over visiting Glenelg Country. Once again, the Calheira brothers factored into much of the scoring with Taylor enjoying a four-goal, one-assist performance and Ryan finishing with one goal and two assists. Concordia entered Wednesday with a 3-1 record.
Early in the season, the two are completely on the same page.
“It’s different. When it’s just a teammate, it’s not the same connection I have with my brother because we’ve been taught by our dad. So it’s special,” Ryan said.
“It’s going to bring us closer together. The connection at home seems to be different, too, because we’re always together. Now we’re on the field together and together when we’re home, too. Like my dad says: ‘Connection off the field, connection on the field.’ ”
John Carroll coach Jim Fendryk saw two talented players that were lethal working in tandem.
“The connecting play between them, it was pretty obvious to see,” he said. “One of the things we noted at halftime is that those two in tandem have a very good understanding of where they are and what the other is going to do at all times. They showed they only need a split second where they get a little space to pick their head up, find the movement of the other one and they’re in behind.”
The Concordia program has taken off since Neto’s arrival.
In 2014, his first season, the Saints didn’t make the C Conference playoffs. They won the C Conference in 2016, joined the B Conference and reached the title game in 2017, and won it last season.
After a deep and talented class graduated last season, Neto is counting on Taylor bringing leadership and Ryan a spark as the Saints look to defend their crown.
And all the while, an already close family is growing even closer.