When the Matadors soccer team learned midfielder Rafael Garcia and senior forward Devin Deld’oacute; both had season-ending ACL injuries, the coaching staff was anxious to see who would step and seize the role of team leader. After only seven games, forward Cameron Sims has punched the clock and emerged as a prime candidate. If he won’t tell you, his stats will, as his playmaking skills have resulted in the team lead for several offensive categories and, overall, ranking at the top of the Big West.
But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Sims has established himself at such a young stage in the season. The 19-year-old’s work ethic on and off the field are paying dividends for the striker, who already has netted two goals, one of which was a game winner, and leads the team in shots, amongst other categories. Despite coming off the bench for two of the season’s first four games and again last week, Sims has remained hungry while perfecting his ball-hawking instincts, and from the sound of it, his ceiling is nowhere near reached.
‘I’m going to play my hardest and try to get to the top,’ said Sims.
He has abided by that same line ever since his days at Chaffey High School (Ontario, Calif.), where he won Mt. Baldy League MVP his senior year even though he ‘didn’t really learn much’ on the field because his coach was learning on the job with him. The learning curve didn’t stop Sims from racking up 26-goals and 12-assists during his prep career, finishing 2006 with All-Conference First Team honors.
It was until his two-year stay at Mt. San Antonio Community College where Sims said he sparked the start of his untapped talent. His former coach at Mt. SAC, Juan Sanchez, echoed the same when speaking of Sims.
‘He was definitely one of those kids that really had a big improvement from one year to the next and obviously he is doing it at CSUN as well,’ said Sanchez. ‘He has that bite in him that we wished some of the other players had. The kid worked hard on the field at and always challenged everything up front.’
Although Sims didn’t get as much playing time as he initially wanted during his freshman year, he continually build on his soccer regimen. The determination translated over to him being named co-captain his sophomore year. ‘
‘I learned most of my soccer at the junior college level and that helped me to get to CSUN and where I am now,’ Sims said.
Before Sims transferred to CSUN, he etched his name in the Mounties’ record books by winning team MVP and All-South Coast Conference First Team honors, largely in part for his 22 goals and 47 points.
‘He had the knack to be at the right place at the right time, finish his scoring opportunities,’ Sanchez said.
As Sims was completing his days as a Mountie, he was recruited by schools like Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside. The forward, however, chose the Matadors.
‘CSUN fits my style of play,’ he said, noting the team’s organized attack and comparing it to the likes of FC Barcelona. ‘I like the way we play and the coaching staff, regardless of the record. I clicked with (head coach) Terry (Davila) and (assistant coach) Yossi (Raz) and that played a big part for me making my decision to come here.’
‘Cameron is a hard-working kid,’ said Davilla. ‘That’s his best quality. He’s always competitive and wants to do well. We brought him to score goals and he’s doing a nice job.’
Aside from all the shots and scoring, Sims has proven to be unselfish as well. In the 88th minute of last week’s game against Sacramento State, he had a clear shot at the net to add on to his early-season r’eacute;sum’eacute;, but instead chose to dish it to Camilo Rojas for the last-minute game-winner. ‘
‘I think Terry is doing a good job at putting him at the right position up front as a target-forward,’ said Sanchez. ‘He’s got that desire to learn and he’s done it so far.’
Sanchez also said he was impressed about how Sims has made the smooth transition from community college to the Division I-level, citing his mental toughness, aptitude to blend in with the speed of the game and ability to learn to play in a new program and with new teammates.
Although Sims said his fast start this season has been an extra reward and been both refreshing and a boost of confidence for himself, he admitted to a minor problem that could be costing the team.
‘I always get a yogurt parfait from McDonalds before every game,’ Sims said laughing, noting that, despite living so close to the restaurant, he hasn’t gotten his good-luck-snack consistently over the course of the 4-3 season. ‘I get pretty superstitious. I’m going to have to start that back up. We are on the down side right now.’
If Sims’ dedication and determination for soccer is the same as his superstitions’, we should see him at the golden arches in no time.