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Daily Pilot Boys' Soccer Dream Team: Pineda knows perseverance

Estancia senior missed sophomore year because he nearly followed his father to Mexico, but stayed and excelled.

April 09, 2014|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(KEVIN CHANG / Daily…)

Three years ago, Marco Pineda played much bigger than his size as a freshman at Estancia High. Pineda, then 4-foot-10, made sure no one pushed him around on the soccer field.

Size didn't matter to Pineda, who proved it as a defender with gritty play. The frosh-soph coach raved about Pineda to the head varsity coach, Robert Castellano. One day, Castellano came out to watch Pineda, before he walked away with one question.

"Could Pineda perform on the varsity level with his tiny size?" Castellano said.

He never found out the following season. Pineda didn't come out for the team as a sophomore, missing the spring and summer off-season programs.

Pineda missed a lot more, his father, Leonardo, the man he said he hasn't seen since second grade.

Pictures are all Pineda has of his dad, who lives in Mexico. The reason Pineda said he hasn't seen him in person is because the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency deported his father, an undocumented immigrant.

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Plans for Pineda to reunite with his father escalated in the spring of his ninth-grade year. Pineda lived with his mother, Albina, and the two mulled over the decision to move to the state of Michoacán to be with Leonardo.

"We had talked about moving for quite a while," Pineda said. "My mom left it up to me. I wanted to stay here. I've been here since I was like 1. Everyone here is a friend. I had everything here, except for my dad. I had a lot to get used to if we moved to Mexico.

"We talked to my dad on the phone. Overall, he said we had a better future here. He always tells me that I've made it this far and to not give up."

Pineda and his mom stayed in Costa Mesa. Pineda is glad they stayed put.

Pineda returned to the Eagles, and by his senior year, he no longer looked diminutive. He grew to 5-9, and with his play, the soccer team rose to new heights under Castellano this past season.

Pineda is the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year in boys' soccer after he led Estancia (16-6-5) to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs. On an injured left knee, Pineda pushed the program to its best run in 14 seasons.

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