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Apr. 9—Mylina Castillo didn't let closed doors or a delayed season prevent her from reaching her senior year goals.
When Reading High sports went on hiatus in the fall, Castillo used her free time to boost her homecoming queen hopes through social media. She won the virtual vote, by the way.
Soccer finally returned in the spring. Castillo is winning there, too.
Reading advanced to the United X League championship Thursday. The Red Knights defeated Harry S Truman 4-0 in the semifinals at Hampden Park.
Castillo, a four-year varsity player and the defensive backbone of the team at sweeper, has been vital to Reading's success.
"Mylina has been a leader for a few years now," coach Andrew Altland said. "She's almost like a coach out there with us. She really embraces the role. The girls respect her. They listen to her."
When Reading voted not to have fall sports, students staged a Let Us Play rally at the school. Castillo and fellow senior Ashley Olivares were among the athletes in attendance.
Although that effort didn't put the Red Knights on the field with the rest of Berks, they were granted an abbreviated spring season.
Getting to play again meant the world to Castillo.
"Without soccer, I don't know where I'd be," she said. "It made me the person I am today."
Reading has made the most of its chance. Instead of trying to hang with Berks I heavyweights like Wilson and Gov. Mifflin, the Red Knights are playing schools more like them.
They've won eight of their nine games and could capture the title at The Pit Saturday. Reading will play either Interboro or Cheltenham at 10 a.m.
"We're able to see what other areas in the state are like, which is nice," Altland said. "Because we're playing city schools, we've been able to compete at a high level and we've had a lot of success."
Reading scored twice in each half against Harry S Truman. Liliana Charicata put home two goals. Ebony White and Araceli Gonzalez each had one.
Castillo anchored the defense like usual.
"She has a commanding presence in the back that we really need," Altland said. "We have a young, inexperienced roster for the most part. She's helping them every practice. Teaching them how to do things. She has been amazing to have."
Castillo spent many anxious hours online during the pandemic. She was either checking social media to monitor the homecoming race or checking to see if there was more high school soccer to play.
"We would text about it throughout the year," Castillo said. "We were always refreshing for updates."
Whether counting votes or counting wins, it all eventually worked out.