For two weeks in July, Ever Torres wasn't thinking about high school soccer.
The Brentwood junior, who earned All-Long Island honors as a freshman and sophomore, was more focused on his family.
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Torres said he came to the United States from El Salvador with his father five years ago and hadn't hugged his mother or tried his slick soccer moves against his younger brother since.
But that changed in July when, Torres said, he took a therapeutic trip back home. "Going there helped me a lot," he said. "Seeing them again gave me a great feeling. I'm more confident and comfortable with myself now. Now I'm sleeping good and I'm focusing better."
There were several obstacles that Torres said he had to overcome as a student-athlete from another country, which included learning a new language and fitting into a different culture. In some instances, he still is adapting. Yet the most difficult part, he said, was performing at a high level on the soccer field without his mother witnessing his achievements from the stands.
"Sometimes, when you go to a game, you find yourself expecting your family to be there, supporting you. And I didn't see anybody," said Torres, who added his father attends games sparingly because of work obligations. "It's hard to manage during the season, but I just work hard because I have a dream. In order for my family to be proud of me and for me to think I came here for a reason, I have to achieve something."
Torres, fresh off his reunion with his family, said he's ready to play this season without thinking about who is -- or isn't -- in the stands when he's dribbling through multiple defenders.
"As a player, I learned that there's always problems off the field," Torres said. "But once you step onto the field, you're a soccer player and you have to do what you have to do."
With a clear head, Torres is primed for another season of gaudy stats and highlight-reel plays. Torres had 18 goals and five assists as a freshman. He had the winning assist in a 2-1 overtime win over Half Hollow Hills East in the Suffolk Class AA final last year. Torres was plagued by ankle and hamstring injuries all season and still had 19 goals and 18 assists.
"His only problem is that his body is growing and he has to learn to adjust to his size," said Brentwood coach Ron Eden, who is in his 34th season. "But he's even more intelligent with soccer and even more creative now that I don't think 15 pounds of added muscle will slow him down."
One thing that hasn't changed since Torres was a freshman is his work ethic. "All three years I've had the same mind-set: work hard, work hard, work hard," he said.
Said Eden, "He goes full tilt at every practice. He has to be first."
A captain this season, Torres believes Brentwood is destined for a season highlighted with a second consecutive Long Island Class AA championship, which also would mean a sixth straight Suffolk title.
While those are his goals this season, his long-term dream is more family-oriented.
"Man, just to play with my brother one day, maybe professionally on the same team," Torres said. "That's what I wish for and work for."