By John Philip Wyllie
Judging from the way she plays, you would never guess that Rancho Buena Vista center midfielder Soledad Gomez is only a sophomore. With a key goal in Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime victory over Bonita Vista High (17-8-1), she helped the Rancho Buena Vista Lady Longhorns advance to the quarterfinals of the CIF San Diego Section Division I Soccer Tournament. Gomez has been a primary contributor all season for the 17-5 Longhorns and she will be counted on again tonight when the Longhorns travel to Poway to take on the fourth ranked (16-5-3) Titans.
“Soledad brings a quiet fire to our team,” said Longhorns coach, Tim Leary. “She is extremely competitive and she is as hard on herself as she is on anyone else on this team. The way that she demands perfection of herself spreads to the other players and encourages them to demand it of themselves. She demonstrates leadership without having to say much. Her touch is immaculate. Balls that would bounce off other people just stick to her. She makes really difficult plays look simple..”
Gomez struggled initially on Tuesday, but by repositioning her to the outside Leary helped her to find the space she needed to launch the second of RBV’s three goals. The Longhorns midfield of Gomez, Megan Lopez and Megan Petersen turned the tide in RBV’s favor on Tuesday in what was a thrilling overtime victory. For Gomez, this is just the latest triumph in a career that started years ago.
“My uncle taught me how to play and I learned a lot by watching the guys,” said the crafty midfielder. I started playing when I was about 10. Later on, I was invited to play on a club team and I have been playing ever since. I tried a few other sports when I was younger, but soccer is basically my main sport.”
In addition to what she contributes skill-wise, Gomez also tries to promote teamwork and cooperation within the team.
“I try to make everything easier for my teammates. My role is to help them out. I don’t try to do too much by myself. I try to pass the ball and involve them as much as I can.”
Gomez thinks the Longhorns success is due somewhat to the way in which they practice.
“We try to practice how we play. When we play tough teams we just try to do what we have done in practice. We see how our opponents play and see the weaknesses that they have. Then we try to take advantage of them. Today it was a little rough at the beginning, but we just tried to play simple and we got it down.”
Gomez was born in Mexico, but she has lived here since she was three. Despite that fact, her Mexican heritage remains important to her and one day she hopes to play for the Mexican national team.
“I have talked to some people that have played for Mexico and they thought I might have a shot at it. I have been thinking about it and hopefully someday I will.”