College soccer coaches are salivating at the talent of Norman North junior midfielder Mauro Cichero.
“I truly believe he is the most talented player in the state,” Timberwolves coach Geo Claros said.
“He is by far the best offensive player in the state. He is a tremendous talent. At 6-3, he is great out of the air. He hits it a ton.”
Cichero certainly has the soccer lineage. His father, also named Mauro, is a former soccer coach at St. Gregory's University who played for Venezuela in the 1980 Olympics.
His oldest brother, Alejandro, is retired but played professional soccer in Colombia.
His other brother, Gabriel, is now playing professional soccer in France and also plays for the Venezuelan national team.
Cichero grew up in Norman from preschool age through the third grade before moving to Spain with his mother.
He played soccer on club teams in Spain for six years. He returns there each summer to visit his sister and play with his club team in tournaments.
He moved back to Norman almost two years ago to live with his father after his mother died from kidney failure.
Claros said there is no doubt Cichero could play for a top 10 Division I soccer program if he chooses.
“I am still thinking about that,” Cichero said. “I don't know if I want to go out of state.”
Cichero leads Norman North into the quarterfinals Friday night against crosstown rival Norman. Game time is 8 p.m. at Norman North.
The Tigers defeated the Timberwolves, the defending state and national champions, 1-0 on a penalty kick earlier in the season.
Claros said he had to encourage Cichero to be more aggressive offensively as the team struggled to score early in the season. Cichero leads the team with 19 goals, but didn't score until the fourth game of the season.
“I was more of an assist type game for the team last year,” Cichero said. “We had seniors who were really good. Now I have gotten lot more aggressive.”
Cichero said the Timberwolves (11-3) are very motivated for Friday night's rematch with Norman (13-1).
“I have a lot of friends on that team,” he said. “We really want to go out and prove something, that they really are not better than us.
“We have gotten a lot better. It just takes time to get the chemistry.”