Soto Raphtis, a member of the Vardar U18 Academy Team, has had a long and successful club soccer career with Vardar. Soto started with Vardar as a U10 player and has worked his way up from being on a third team in the club to Vardar’s highest level of soccer offered to high school age boys.
“The first time I made an A team I was at the U13 level. I wasn’t the most athletic kid so I had to work extra hard,” Soto said. Now as a senior, Soto hasn’t just made it, he’s a leading example to all club players as a captain and starter at center back.
“I had great coaches throughout Vardar,” Soto said. “They all taught me something but I’ll always remember Demir’s (Muftari) advice to never be satisfied, to strive for more, and that’s made be hungry to become better.”
As an Academy member since 2012, Soto has started in 28 out of 30 Academy games, and participated in the 2012 USSDA playoffs. Prior to that he was a U15 State Cup Finalist, U14 State Cup Semifinalist, U14 MRL Champion and U14 Region II Championship Finalist. During that time, Soto was also a Region II ODP pool player and member of the Michigan State ODP Team for three years. At the high school level playing for Country Day, Soto was named to the 2011 All-State Third Team the same year that the school won the Division 3 State Championship. He has also been named to the All-Region Team, All-District Team and All County Honorable Mention. Soto also plays football for the Country Day program.
Upon graduation, Soto will play for Colgate University. “The Academy training is second to none and has really prepared me to play at the collegiate level,” Soto added. “The Academy is the way of the future and I would highly recommend it for our younger players. I think the best way to get ready for the Academy is to spend as much time with a ball on your foot knocking it around and watch as much soccer as you can.”
Soto’s long career with Vardar and the Academy is capped by one highlight. “Two years ago we had to win our final game against the Sockers to earn a spot into the playoffs,” Soto said. “We ended up winning 3-2 and accomplishing that goal by pulling together as a team was my best memory of being at Vardar.”