LBSU’s prolific scorer is collected amidst the brightening lights
By Matthew Gozzip Athletics Editor
Practice concluded at George Allen Field but Ashley Gonzales is still zoned in. It’s the day before the game against nationally ranked Southern California, a fact made more apparent when the hyperfocus in her eyes remains unbroken after her coaches call her. Gonzales’ aura of intensity remains even when she is at standing rest.
“Every practice, every training session is like a game to me,” says Gonzales. “I embrace the role of being under pressure.” Believe it or not, Gonzales might never have been a start soccer player. Originally a cheerleader in training, the only reason she was signed up for soccer because she didn’t meet the age requirement to for the cheer program. Gonsalez, a born comeptitior, embraced the challenge.
Sixteen years later, the love for the sport has remained entact. “When I was younger, I didn’t enjoy anything as much as I did soccer,” Gonzales says. “I loved to run, plus the thrill of scoring and celebrating was so exciting.”
And Gonzales did a whole lot of celebrating. At Chino Hills High School, she led the offensive attack with 38 goals and 20 assists. In her senior year, the Huskies captured the section title after an all-everything awardwinning season for Gonzales. Scoring is a natural ability for Gonzales due to her unusually aggressive attack. The junior forward routinely battles for balls and seals out defenders when need be, not always opting for simply taking a through ball. Opposing players know the ball is coming to her and she still manages to deke and drive the ball through the net.
Gonzales’ offensive edge has awarded her a reputation on the pitch, but it’s hard not to observe one of her other notable traits: her soft-spoken calmness. Rarely, if ever, does Gonzales yell at her teammates. Critiques are done in private or off to the sideline.
Many believe that a leader should have vocal command of their teammates in effort to display confidence. Gonzales’ calm presence over her teammates actually amplifies their play. “Pushing myself and my teammates is something I try to do everyday and that is putting out a hard effort”, says Gonzales. “Helping people be successful is different for everyone”. And actions have spoken louder than words. In two years at LBSU, Gonzales has established herself as one of the greatest soccer players in program history. Her 19 goals, 42 points and several post-season accolades justify this sentiment.
This season her two goals and assist have helped result in an undefeated season so far against strong competition. Despite the continual praises from the media and her opponents, Gonzales remains modest after all the attention. The star soccer player balances the stress of on field pressures by focusing on her studies. A child development major, Gonzales finds joy in helping kids fulfill their potential like she does with her teammates. “One day, I want to be that person that helps a kid experience their first ‘first’s’ ”, Gonzales says. “The first time did well in school. The first time they had fun with new friends. To share that kind of experience with someone feels amazing.”
Even when she is in the spotlight, there is no contempt for Gonzales. For a person who enjoys first’s, Gonzales is the first of her kind: a hard-hitting striker with the mindfulness of a coach, the confidence of a professional and the humility to realize that she can be better even when she is near the top of the sport.