Every time Marcos Moradel scores a goal, he puts two fingers to his mouth, kisses them and then raises his arm toward the sky.
Written on his armband, Moradel has three names and three dates: Moises, Mariela and Apollos.
His brother, sister and nephew all passed away at birth when Moradel was 16.
“It was devastating. I don’t remember how much time I spent crying for them,” the Albert Einstein High School senior said. “Before the season, I told myself to use this as motivation. Just having them written on my armband is a great feeling and it gives me that extra push.”
For Moradel, who as of Sunday night was tied with Thomas S. Wootton forward Matt Hoy for the Montgomery County lead in goals with 19, soccer always has been a sport he has played with some variation of a heavy heart.
When he was 8, Moradel’s grandmother Argentina Castillo passed away. She was an irreplaceable presence in Moradel’s life at the time. Soon after, Maryland FC, the youth soccer team coached by his father Carlos, folded and Moradel stopped playing soccer.
“When she passed away, I had kind of a meltdown,” he said. “She was always there for me, taking care of me after the games, after practices. When I was hurt, she would clean up my cuts and bruises.
“People usually have their favorite player, but I really look up to my grandmother and father. They’ve given me that extra push to be the best.”
After spending roughly a year away from soccer when Maryland FC dissolved, Moradel fell out of shape quickly. His fitness plummeted. He had to relearn his technical skills. The game no longer came as easily to him. Still, it was this renewed realization — in both his love for the sport and his work ethic — that have led to Moradel’s current success.
During that trying time, and currently, one of Moradel’s biggest outlets to escape is playing the drums. The drummer for Einstein’s honors jazz band, Moradel finds value in balancing his life’s two passions.
“That’s something I do to blow off some steam if I’m having a bad day,” he said. “I throw all my anger into those strokes on the drums. That helps a lot. That’s something else I’ve got under me that I’m good at and something else I really enjoy doing.”
This season, Moradel has scored in eight of Einstein’s 10 matches, netting more than one goal on seven occasions, including two three-goal efforts and one four-goal game against Damascus on Oct. 10.
“I can’t tell you how invaluable Marcos has been,” Einstein coach Adrian Baez said. “Marcos has been instrumental in this, helping us achieve our goal.”
Earlier in the year, Moradel scored a goal directly from a corner kick, which Baez said “was like watching on TV.” His throw-ins are among the most powerful in the county and his tactical awareness is strong. Of Einstein’s 27 goals scored this season, he has 19 (roughly 70 percent) in helping the Titans to a 6-1-3 record.
“It’s one of the greatest feelings ever. Not only have I had success with my club team, but to also say that you’re doing this for your school is amazing. Many people think high school is just high school, but it’s a part of your life. You represent where you were,” said Moradel, who plays club soccer for the Olney Rangers. “My goal for this season was 20 [goals], so to have 19, it’s hard to explain my joy.”
Oddly enough, however, the senior doesn’t have a single scholarship offer. His grades are decent, too — Moradel said he maintains a 3.0 grade point average. When he was a sophomore, interest began pouring in from top-caliber schools such as Loyola (Md.), Virginia Tech and Cornell. But by what self-admittedly was his own fault, he didn’t pursue the offers with enough energy.
“I look back on that and I’m upset with myself,” Moradel said. “I thought the most important part was to grab their attention. After that I didn’t know the whole process, about having the grades and the test scores. I disregarded the important part and lived off the fact that they’ve seen my play and I have their attention.”
Currently, Wright State, Temple and Mount St. Mary’s all have shown interest, but Moradel knows plenty more work must be done if he hopes to achieve his dream of playing college soccer and, potentially, beyond.
“I’ve had a tremendous amount of support in my [life],” Moradel said. “I can’t thank [my friends and family] enough for what they’ve done for me. It’s another reason for me to want to have success in soccer.”