Last year as a sophomore, Sandra Gonzales broke the single-season scoring record at Fort Worth South Hills High School. This season, a freshman phenom has already passed that mark, and it so happens that player is Sandras younger sister, Esmeralda.
With 45 goals scored this year in just 17 games, the Scorpions have one of the most potent offensive threats around. She might have been a secret at the beginning of the season, but its becoming hard not to notice.
I thought she was just doing it to our girls at practice, but then I see her beating [NCAA] Division I prospects that cant contain her, coach Jamie Southern said. Shes so calm, cool and collected on the ball. Shes very mature for her age on the pitch. Its a natural ability. Some people blossom later, but shes blossoming at a really young age and has a good future in front of her.
Esme, as friends call her, has played soccer since she was 6. Now 15, her skills are drawing attention not only from teammates and opponents, but even national teams.
I think we could see her playing on TV one day, Southern said. I think she can make it into the national ranks. Im not even lying when I say I think shell [eventually] be called up to the national team.
For now, Esmeralda is focused solely on South Hills quest for a district title and playoff run. One of the most exciting parts of that is playing with her older sister.
Having [Sandra] on the team is motivation to me to do better, she said. She knows how to read me and she knows what Im going to do and where Im going to pass the ball to.
Sandra, who has eight goals and 13 assists this year, is equally excited to make Scorpions soccer a family affair .
Its a dream come true actually, because shes always had the best potential and its just that connection I get whenever I play with her.
Sandra isnt at all shocked by the immediate impact her little sister has had.
I wasnt really surprised, Sandra said. I know she brings 100 percent to the table every time, so putting that together with all the other girls on the team is what made it really connect. Adding her to this team really brought out some confidence in some girls that maybe didnt have that confidence last year.
And, next years team will have an even greater Gonzales influence, because a third sister will join the squad when she becomes a freshman.
Free and easy
Opponents have to be careful about fouling Aledo. The Bearcats have a valuable weapon who can turn almost any offensive set piece into a scoring opportunity. Shayne Cardwell, a four-year starter for the program, has 12 goals and eight assists this season, and four of those goals and three of the assists have come from free kicks.
Hes really strong physically, and when he strikes the ball he hits it with such pace, coach Derek Vierling said. He practices it a lot. He can bend it around a wall; he can hit them like a knuckle ball that makes them really difficult to save.
Cardwell is so effective at set pieces because hes been studying one of the games best : Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ever since I was 10 years old Ive been trying to do the same exact steps that hes been doing, trying to catch the ball with the same spot on my foot, trying to follow through the same way, Cardwell said.
Cardwell, who feels like his range extends all the way to 45 yards out, confesses that he likes taking free kicks so much that he sometimes buys himself calls.
I find myself taking a couple of dives sometimes just to get the free kicks, he admits.
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