Normally, freshmen enter their first varsity season wide-eyed and just hoping to keep up.
Summit’s Yajaira Mendoza admitted her freshman year had aspirations for performing at a higher level on a team which she felt could have achieved even more.
“Yaya,” as she’s known, is spending the summer polishing her own skills for the Lady Cougars soccer team which had again returned to the postseason.
“There was an expectation to make the playoffs,” Mendoza said of the veteran Summit team when she appeared on the varsity squad in her freshman year. She was named to the All-District second team.
“I had a good freshman year,” Mendoza said, “but we were expecting to do a little bit better (as a team). We did really well in the pre-season tournaments but the regular season didn’t go as well,” she said.
Nevertheless, Summit scrapped and took the district’s fourth and final playoff spot. Summit would lose in the first round to Kennedale.
Now, Mendoza, a rising sophomore, will band together with the other underclassmen to reformulate a Lady Cougars team which graduated six seniors. There will only be three new seniors to step up, with the majority of the team being sophomores.
Her focus before the team regroups in the coming school year is to work on her conditioning and technique.
Mendoza will play on the Dallas Texans select soccer team for her fifth year and said her focus is work on her shooting and building her confidence – and conditioning. “Summer is for conditioning,” Mendoza said, noting that she wants to be able to devote the varsity team practices and workouts for the strategy side of soccer and learning the system even better.
“I always want to be in shape and be ahead and be in shape when the season starts,” she added.
Mendoza admitted the World Cup taking place over the last few weeks has increased her excitement for the sport and for visualizing the level of play she and her teammates could aspire to.
Summit head coach Kirby Davis said Mendoza will do all she can to achieve her potential.
“She always does more than she’s asked,” Davis said.
As a midfielder, Mendoza said her summer play affords her chances to experiment to some degree with other positions, which offers a different perspective on strategy.
“There are strategies for knowing how to go with the ball and touch it in the right direction,” Mendoza said of all she’s already learned at Summit.
Learning other systems and styles of play during the summer may be complicated, but Mendoza said the benefits can be reaped in the coming seasons. She also acknowledged playing with teammates from teams such as Duncanville and Grand Prairie will offer insight into possible opponents she and her Summit teammates may face.
It will just be her sophomore year, but Mendoza will likely be a leader for the Lady Cougars this year.
“I’m not sure about next year,” she said of the success the Lady Cougars may have. “But I’m sure I’ll play better and I do think we’ll be a solid team.”