By John Philip Wyllie
Sweetwater’s Joe Corona clearly remembers his freshman year. It was the last time the Red Devils wore the Mesa League crown in men’s soccer. Now a senior captain on a solid 11-7-1 team, Corona is hoping to end his high school career on a strong note with another league championship. Behind Corona’s leadership, the Red Devils are off to a promising 4-1 league start, but with the parity that exists in the South Bay nobody is taking anything for granted at this point.
“Last year we had a little bit of trouble because our team was so young,” coach, Raul Galindo explained. “This year there is a lot more synergy within the team and a lot more enthusiasm. The guys are listening. I think a lot of it has to do with Joe. He is a very skilled player, but the qualities that he shows as leader are what really help.”
Corona bounces back and forth between center midfield and center forward. Regardless of where he plays he is the catalyst for the Red Devils formidable attack.
“I think he has 16 goals on the year and is our leading scorer. He is the sparkplug that keeps the team going. He is a four-year letterman and a returning first-team All-League player. He remembers how great it was to win the championship as a freshman, but now this is his team and he wants to leave a legacy.”
Soccer is nothing new to Corona.
“I began playing in Mexico when I was about seven years old. My dad was my first coach. After we moved here when I was 12, I started playing club ball for the Aztecs.”
He eventually moved on to Barcelona and most recently joined the La Jolla Nomads. He has continued to work on his skills and ranks among the South Bay’s best at this point. Capable of both making plays and finishing, Corona prefers to play up top, but he is willing to do whatever is necessary to help his team win. He has learned a lot over the last four years from teammates that were older. Now a veteran himself, he is hoping to impart all that he has learned to the younger guys.
“When I was a freshman, I really didn’t have much playing time, but I remember when we were depending on someone to score that my captains (were often the ones to come through).”
They told him at the time that they would be counting on him to step up and be the leader once he became a senior.
“Now they come out to the games to support us, so I really want to do this for my old friends. At first I was a little (hesitant) to be a leader, but this year I am feeling more comfortable and when I talk to my teammates, they listen.”
As solid in the classroom as he is on the field, Corona plans to continue his playing career after he graduates in June. Next fall he expects to attend Cal-State L.A. and following his career there he hopes to one day turn professional.