Rest assured, the Elguera family will have a special celebration when twins Julian and Sophia turn 18 on Nov. 15.
And while that big birthday is reason enough, Julian and Sophia, captains and star center backs for the River Hill boys and girls soccer teams, respectively, are banking on having more to be happy about.
As seniors leaders of two of the most prolific soccer programs in Maryland, the Elguera twins are determined to be doing more than blowing out candles. The state championship games, held Nov. 14-16, will overlap with their birthday, and the Hawks boys are aiming for their 10th title while the girls are seeking their fourth straight and to extend their state record to 14 overall.
Julian, who was called up to the varsity team at the end of his sophomore season, has felt the sting of two straight state title-game losses. Sophia, set to become a four-year starter, is trying to win her fourth title.
The two come into their seasons with different motivations, but a common goal.
“Winning the state titles is probably the best feeling I’ve ever had,” said Sophia, who moves to sweeper this season after playing on the outside her first three years. “Just winning with your team who has worked really hard for the past four months — running hard every single day — and to be rewarded like that is something else.”
The twins will be making their final state title runs as team captains. Julian was appointed Aug. 14, with Sophia getting the official word a couple days later.
“It’s unique. I don’t think anyone else can say they have a sister also on varsity that’s also a captain,” Julian said. “So we’re both really proud of each other and we both push each other.”
In Argentina, where the twins’ parents, Jorge and Andrea, are from, soccer is a way of life. It became the same for Julian and Sophia.
Julian started watching soccer with his father when he was 3-years-old and his knowledge and passion for the game was apparent when he joined his first recreation team at age 6.
Sophia started playing a bit later, but it didn’t take long for her to be all in as well.
“She was very little, but she was ready to go and it was like, ‘Let’s see what happens,’ ” Jorge said. “So they’re playing for 30 minutes and Andrea was there waiting for her when the game ended and Sophia was smiling and looked at her and said: ‘Mom, it’s in me. It’s in me. I felt it.’ It was pretty amazing.”
The twins sharpened their skills together every chance they got, playing in the front yard of the their first home and practicing with the backyard goal at the house they live in now. Over the years, the family has taken trips to Argentina, where the two play street ball with their cousins, giving them an appreciation of what soccer means to the culture.
It has been reflected in their play at River Hill.
They are both highly skilled, intuitive and fierce competitors. Perhaps most importantly, they compete with a team-first approach.
At 6 feet 2, Julian is fearless and prides himself on winning every ball. He regularly blocks shots and dominates in the air. His consistency and hard-nosed play has earned him the trust of his teammates and coach Matt Shagogue.
“He’s a kid you can say, this is a two-year JV kid, so he had to work and work really hard, and play his role and wait his time and the time came,” Shagogue said. “You’re happy for those kids. They did it the right way. They work hard and they earn it. And he’s not going to lose it or let anybody take it from him.”
The Hawks girls won a third straight title for the fourth time in program history last fall. A fourth in a row would be unprecedented for the program, and Sophia would become River Hill’s first four-year starter to be part of the accomplishment.
A midfielder on her national champion club team, she has impressed River Hill coach Brian Song with her willingness to play defense for the betterment of the team.
In her freshman year, the Hawks were loaded with experienced midfielders, so Sophia accepted a spot at right back. In her senior year, she could have asked to move up to midfield, but understands that the team needs her more in the back. So when Song told his players on the first day of training to go to the spots on the field where they wanted to play, she lined up at sweeper, where she’ll be replacing graduated All-Metro selection Danielle Poindexter.
“That’s shows a lot of maturity, knowing what she needs to do to help the team,” Song said. “If she goes to midfield, she would have a much better opportunity to score goals and get assists and stuff like that for her personal goals. But by staying in the back this year, she is really taking one for the team. That’s in her character.”
Julian and Sophia both know what it takes to reach the title game. Both River Hill teams started at No. 2 in The Baltimore Sun’s Top 15 preseason poll, with each poised to make another state title charge.
Both Julian and Sophia are outstanding students with plans to play college soccer, but they likely won’t be going to the same school. So close with the same circle of friends, next year will be different and difficult for them.
It makes these last high school seasons that much more important.
As disappointed as Julian was after his two state title-game losses, he was always happy for Sophia’s success. And as excited as Sophia was after her state championships, she felt some hurt for Julian.
“It’s going to be an asado, which is the typical Argentinian-type barbeque,” he said. “I think it’s going to include fireworks with lots of music and joy because that’s what soccer brings to us. It’s about playing and sharing those moments, so yeah, a big asado would be in order.”