January 30, 2004

Sweetwater’s Quiroz a Tower of Strength in the Midfield

By John Philip Wyllie

For four years, Ana Quiroz has toiled in the Sweetwater Red Devil midfield trying to help her team advance to the CIF San Diego section tournament. In each of the previous three seasons, her skillful play has earned her a well-deserved berth on the all-league team. Although Quiroz appreciates the many individual accolades she has received, a more important goal has thus far eluded her.

“I’ve been playing here for fours years and we’ve come close, but we have never made it (into the CIF tournament). Our school has never reached the CIF playoffs (in women’s soccer) so that is our goal.”

Having long been overshadowed by South Bay powerhouses Hilltop and Bonita Vista, the Red Devils have struggled to gain respect. Head coach Robert Bonilla decided this season to play a more demanding out of conference schedule in the hope of gaining that respect. It has not been easy.

“At the beginning of the year it was a little frustrating, but the girls have picked it up. We are getting better,” said. Quiroz. All the while, Bonilla’s three-time all conference selection has been a tower of strength in the middle.

“Her work ethic is what makes her special. She is not a vocal leader, but one that leads by example. When Ana arrived as a freshman, her individual ball skills made her stand out, even among the seniors. She understands the game really well and she picks up things that other girls don’t,” Bonilla said.

Now she finds herself as one of only two senior starters on a young team that includes four freshman and five sophomores in the starting eleven. Knowing that this is her last chance to gain that ever-elusive playoff berth, Quiroz is helping to mold the younger players around her into a more competitive team. Her success on the field has been more than matched by her performance in the classroom.

“She excels in the classroom,” according to Bonilla. “She is (probably) going to be the school’s valedictorian since she has been number one in her class ever since her freshman year. I don’t know how she does it, but she gets all As in her classes and still manages to excel out here. We are very proud of her.”

With a weighted G.P.A. of 4.5, Quiroz is setting her sights high. “I want to major in structural engineering and after I get my bachelor’s degree I plan to get my masters.”

Quiroz would like to stay close to home and hopes to attend UCSD in the fall. Her future in soccer is less certain.

“My education comes first, but if I have the opportunity, I would like to try out for UCSD’s team.”

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