East Xtra: Riverview senior gaining college interest
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Riverview senior midfielder Cole Quinio is the guy you'll see with the ball rocketing off his right foot as he "bicycle kicks" as though he were part of a FIFA video game.
"He has moves he basically invented," said Riverview coach Mickey Namey.
Now, Quinio's skills are getting him calls from schools such as Marshall University, a Division I program in West Virginia, and smaller local schools such as La Roche College.
Three years ago, Quinio was a freshman reserve, spending most of his time watching matches from Riverview's bench.
"We used to laugh because he was slow and kind of chubby," said Namey. "But he shot up about a foot."
Quinio's growth was a bonus, but his path toward playing college soccer is something he forged on his own. An Oakmont resident, Quinio was inspired by his cousin and former Riverview midfielder Chris Altman.
Altman even held the Raiders' scoring record in the early 2000s. With soccer being the family's driveway game, Quinio was able to progress through youth soccer leagues. He played "Cup" soccer by the time he was in the sixth grade.
Last fall, Quinio recorded eight goals and 30 assists, a personal highlight as well as a career one.
"Everyone tries to be the goal scorer, but I try to conduct the field," said Quinio.
His pride has always been playmaking, particularly with fellow midfielder Zach Lear.
"We connected a lot last year," Quinio said.
Namey backed up Quinio's "conductor" role.
"Everything we do feeds through Cole -- he's our conductor," Namey said. "He controls the flow of our game. I put that on him to decide."
It's a big responsibility, but Quinio's leadership is something that the entire team embraces.
"They know that he worked from being on the bench to being a sophomore just getting some playing time," Namey said. "Cole wasn't babied as a freshman or sophomore. He's put the time in."
Namey pointed out that Quinio will play "beyond his level" to keep growing in soccer, noting that he plays against current college players on a men's indoor team at Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena.
The effects of Quinio's all-out attitude can be seen in the action on the field.
"His ball skills are unbelievable," said Namey. "Cole basically can put the ball wherever he wants. He takes our free kicks, corner kicks, and he can bend them in.
"Move-wise, his style of play is hard to explain. I've coached 12 years now and I've never had anyone as talented as him. There are things I can't even teach him on the field -- I'm more just teaching him game smarts."
Perhaps the best example of Quinio's ball skills came in a home game last year against Serra Catholic. The ball was in Riverview's end, and Quinio took a solid pass from the goalie. One Eagles' player rushed Quinio to defend, but Quinio "rainbowed" him -- that is, he used his feet to cycle the ball through the air behind his head. The ball landed well-placed in front of Quinio, who kept dribbling forward and scored.
"The announcer was screaming, 'sombrero,'" Quinio recalled about the experience.
He still hasn't been able to draw a connection between the Mexican hat and what he'd done on the field versus Serra.
"That's why it was just weird -- I didn't know if it really meant anything," Quinio added.
But "sombrero" does mean something. It's now Quinio's nickname on the team.
Quinio isn't final on where he'll choose to play his college soccer, but he is focused on his dedication to the Riverview team. He spoke of his sophomore year playoff experience.
"That's the only time we made playoffs when I was on the team," Quinio said.
Quinio wasn't willing to leave Riverview's postseason prospects at that, however: "Our goal this year is to win the section [title]."