Coming off of a frustrating season on the sidelines and tasked with replacing the most prolific goal scorer in program history, Houston County’s Cristian Medina made his one season in a Bears uniform count as he led his team to the GHSA Class AAAAA semifinals.
Medina finished with 24 goals and eight assists in 20 matches and has been named The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
“He’s the most complete player that I’ve ever coached,” Houston County head coach Jason Kirk said. “He can beat you going left, or he can beat you going right. His first touch is fantastic, and he defends really well. He also has the hardest shot that I’ve ever seen, and he can pass on a dime.”
Medina also has a flare for entertainment. Audible gasps from the crowd and fellow players are not uncommon when the senior decides to showcase his dribbling acumen or use his pace to run around defenders into dangerous areas.
Despite all of the talent and skill in his two deadly feet, Medina believes it’s what’s inside of him that separates him from the competition.
“It was never about me being that good; it’s just that I’m so passionate, and I play hard every game,” Medina said. “I love the competition, and every game is different. Anything can happen in the game of soccer and I just really enjoy it.”
Houston County missed that passion last season. Due to GHSA transfer rules, Medina was forced to sit out his entire junior year after a move from Peach County. He could only watch as Houston County was ousted in the second round of the playoffs.
“It was very tough (to sit out),” Medina said. “I love playing soccer, and I had to sit on the sidelines watching all of my teammates play and know that I couldn’t do anything about it. I knew coming into my senior year that I had to make up for last season, so I played twice as hard.”
Led by Medina, Houston County exceeded expectations this season after replacing a large and talented senior class from 2015, including two-time All-Middle Georgia Boys Soccer Player of the Year Steven Moore. The Bears came within minutes of forcing extra time in the semifinals before falling 1-0 to eventual state champion Riverwood.
“I think everyone was doubting us at the beginning of the year,” Medina said. “They thought that since we didn’t have all of those good players that we wouldn’t be as good. Nobody really realized that we still had a lot of talent. Once we started playing together we realized that we had it in us to be a good team.”
After mulling over numerous options, including playing professionally in Mexico, Medina decided just recently to accept a scholarship offer to Mercer, where he hopes to study medicine and help the Bears climb to the top of the Southern Conference after a third-place finish a year ago.
“I’ve always liked Mercer’s program, and I know that it’s a very good school,” Medina said. “I want to study medicine, and I know they have a good medical program. The soccer team is good, and I want that competition to make me a better player.”