KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- At the start of the high school soccer season, not many folks expected the Guadalupe Centers boys to be contending for a state championship -- not even them.
"We didn't feel confident in ourselves. We didn't think we were going to be this far," sophomore Ismael Avila said.
On Saturday, the Aztecs captured the Missouri 2A state soccer title, a first for the program and the school.
"We've been wanting to do this for a long time. We're doing it now and it actually feels pretty good," sophomore Luckyboy Tarley said.
Like most teams, Guadalupe's rise to the top took some time. But they also faced a unique set of challenges when it came to finding their identity.
Most of these players are first or second-generation Americans hailing from different countries around the world. But they've learned to embrace their differences and play together as one team.
"I really think that it is a big strength that the kids know that they're all from different parts. They know that either their parents or themselves have had to struggle to make sure that they're here," head coach Ricky Olivares said.
Struggle and perseverance -- common themes that thread the Aztecs together.
"It's an amazing feeling. My parents have always made sacrifices no matter what. Ever since I came into this world," Avila said.
The Aztecs say they made sacrifices over the summer -- early workouts, extra practices, and they were rewarded in the end.
For their accomplishments, Guadalupe Centers earns Hy-Vee and FOX4 Team of the Week honors.