February 2, 2007

Lopez a Solid Defender for Barons

By John Philip Wyllie

Heading into the Mesa League soccer season Bonita Vista coach, Jason Murphy was anticipating another great year from his stellar junior center midfielder Arturo Cuevas. When Cuevas, battling for a header caught an elbow in the nose, the season took an unexpected turn. With his nose badly broken the skillful Cuevas was forced to the sideline. Without his offensive spark the team now has to rely heavily on its defense. That is where Clayton Lopez comes in.

“Clayton is the hardest worker on our team. He and Cody Shields anchor our defense,” Murphy said.

Lopez plays in the heart of that stingy defense filling the role of either the stopper or sweeper. With the offense not nearly as potent as it would be with Cuevas on the field, the defense has had to step up in order to keep the Barons in the hunt for a CIF Tournament berth.

“Arturo has been a two-year varsity starter for us and unfortunately he got hurt this year. He leaves some very big shoes for the other players to fill, but we still should be pretty good because of our strong defense,” Lopez said.

He brings a wealth of experience to the team.

“I started playing when I was four and soccer has always been my number one sport. I play for the Chula Vista Rangers and we went pretty far in national competition last year. We hope to do that again after the high school season ends.”

The Chula Vista Rangers battled Arsenal, the four-time national champion in a hard-fought regional match before eventually falling 2-1. Lopez would like to return the favor by eliminating Arsenal this year.

With this being his senior season, Lopez is hoping to extend his career into college. His record as a solid student should help to make that possible.

“I’d like to check out a number of colleges to see what is out there, but I have been talking to the coach at Seattle Pacific University longer than I have been talking to anybody else.”

Soccer is far from his only interest. Lopez started last fall on the school’s football team and expects to start once again in the spring when baseball season rolls around. There is no question however where his true allegiance lies.

“I play football, baseball and soccer, but I am really more of a soccer player that also plays football and baseball.”

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