February 9, 2001
By John Philip Wyllie
Two summers ago, Mexico's Women's National Soccer team sweeper, Gina Oceguera made history when she represented the Tricolores on its first ever Women's World Cup team. In April, she is set to make history again. When she steps on to the pitch for the newly formed San Diego Spirit, Oceguera will be playing in the first ever fully professional women's American soccer league or WUSA.
"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to play," she said during a phone interview from her Sunnyvale, Ca. home. "I just got married up here in December, so I didn't want to move too far away. San Diego will be perfect."
Oceguera has been a key component in solidifying Mexico's rapidly improving defense. With her speed, composure on the ball and ability to run down attackers and clear the ball out of harm's way, she has become a favorite of Mexican National Team goalkeeper, Linnea Quinones. Quinones is not surprised that San Diego selected her.
"I always feel comfortable out there when she is in front of me," says Quinones. "I know she will usually win the ball and clear it after she does." Quinones adds that while it is difficult for any of the many Mexican-American players playing on Mexico's national team to take a leadership role, Oceguera often does by setting an example with her hard work.
A prolific goal scoring forward during her stellar all-American Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo collegiate career, Oceguera expects to play on the back line for the Spirit. "I spoke with coach (Carlos) Juarez a few weeks ago and he intends to use me as a marking back or to make use of my speed coming out of the defense on the flank. I'm looking forward to playing for him. He has a good reputation as someone who clearly explains what he wants and then helps you to achieve it."
When he selected Oceguera with the team's fifth round draft pick, Juarez said, "Gina is probably one of the most underrated players around. She has excellent speed, she is technical and she can play both defense and forward."
The San Diego Spirit kick off their inaugural season when they host the Philadelphia Freedom on April 22 at the University of San Diego's Torero Stadium. With a seating capacity of only 7,000 and the popularity of the U.S. Women's National Team players scattered throughout the league, tickets for the eleven home dates are expected to sell quickly. Call 1-877-476-2237 or visit the San Diego Spirit website at: www.sandiegospirit.com for additional information.