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Rochester's Spiro Pliakos has seven goals through seven games this season. (The Oakland Press file photo)

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BOYS SOCCER: Rochester's Pliakos is one step ahead of the competition

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ROCHESTER — Rochester’s Spiro Pliakos always seems to be one step ahead of the competition. Whether it’s finding an open teammate, creating a goal for himself or defending the opposing team, Spiro just seems to be moving at a different speed than everyone else on the field.

“He’s really physical on the ball and is generally one to two steps ahead of everybody else on the field,” Rochester coach Chris Purgatori said.

“That’s something I’ve been working on through my whole career,” Pliakos said. “Being one step ahead gives you an edge over your opponent so you know what to do on the field, where to go, just a step ahead so you’re quicker with your decision making. You know what’s behind you and ahead of so you can make decisions on the field quicker.”

Pliakos was named to the Oakland Press all-county first team and Division 1 all-state third team last season. As good as we was as a junior, he’s taken his game to another level as a senior and has become more aggressive offensively.

Since moving to center midfield this season he has seven goals and four assists through seven games. Pliakos’ seven goals this season is more than he scored all of last season when had five goals and eight assists as a left midfielder.

Purgatori has encouraged Pliakos to be more aggressive and at times even be a little selfish.

“We got him playing more in the center of the field so he’s able to distribute, but he’s also able to attack from there.” Purgatori said. “Also, he’s just more confident in himself. Not that he wasn’t confident last year, he is just able to assert himself more. He knows when he steps out on the field, he’s generally the best player on the field.”

“I definitely know what (coach is) talking about being more aggressive, taking shots from distance and such,” Pliakos said. “I’m also looking to setup my teammates. A lot of times they’ll be open because I’ll be man marked or have two people by me. I’m just trying to find a balance between being more aggressive and not being too selfish with the ball.”

Pliakos’ talent allows him to be selfish at times, but he’s also well respected by his teammates. Purgatori calls Pliakos another coach on the field and it’s clear the other players on the team respect him.

“I think Spiro brings a lot of energy to the team,” senior Evan Asuncion said. “Every time he touches the ball he always makes something happen. He’s always talking. He takes initiative on the field and off the field. Even more importantly, when he doesn’t have the ball he finds a way to get open. A lot of times he puts the team on his back and just scores goals.”

Pliakos is a four-year varsity player and two-year captain for Rochester. Purgatori said the first time he saw Pliakos as a freshman, he knew he had a potential star.

“I remember him coming in his freshman year and trying out,” Purgatori said. “I had heard of him. I was never really able to see him play. From Day 1 you could tell he was going to be a special player. I knew he was going to be a special player and I think he did too, but he never let it get to his head. He was always so humble and continued to work hard to get better.”

Pliakos’ work ethic has helped him improve each year and helped him fulfill his lifetime goal of playing college soccer. He has committed to Detroit Mercy.

“Each year I think I’ve been improving,” Pliakos said. “This year I think I’m in the best physical shape. I have a little more strength on the ball and it allows me to get past more guys and get more opportunities. I think this year I’ve finally gotten to the peak and I’m going to keep improving that. I think now for my high school career I’m just at the best I’ve been in all four years. Once I get college I’m looking to improve on where I’m at right now.”

But before he heads to Detroit Mercy, Pliakos has some goals for his senior year at Rochester. As much individual success as Pliakos has had, he’s hopeful for more team success this season.

Rochester has not won a district title since 2007, something Pliakos is well aware of.

“I haven’t won a district yet in my four years at Rochester and that’s one of the goals we have as a team as well as myself, we want to get that district championship,” Pliakos said. “And win the league, we haven’t been able to do that either, yet. We’re in the toughest league in the state. It’s a goal we set as a team this year.”

Winning a district title won’t be easy with plenty of quality teams in Rochester’s district including rivals Rochester Adams and Stoney Creek.

But regardless of how the Falcons finish the season, Pliakos hopes to be remembered at Rochester as a good captain and a hard worker.

“I want to just be remembered as a good leader, good captain, good team player,” Pliakos said. “I don’t want anybody to outwork me. I want to have the best work ethic out here, work harder than everybody.”

Contact Dave Pemberton at dave.pemberton@oakpress.com.

Last Updated: 9/14/2013 7:34:38 PM EST

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