After Kofa's Abigail Rosales had a stellar freshman season, coach Marisela Velasquez knew she would see Rosales improve. But she never imagined Rosales would become such a force to be reckoned with.
“I think I expected her to have a great year this year, but I think she surprised even me with everything that she did,” Velasquez said. “This year, when we needed a score she took it upon herself to do it. As a sophomore, it's great to see because she'll be around for another two years. ... I think she went above and beyond what even us coaches were expecting.”
Rosales' vast improvements and incredible stats earned her the honor of being named the Yuma Sun/Yuma Rotary Club 2011-2012 Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
“I was really proud of myself,” Rosales said. “It (being named POY) was a feeling that I've never felt before. All that hard work that our team and I have gone through paid off. It was just an exciting feeling.”
Rosales scored 22 goals and had 21 assists in her sophomore season with the Kings, helping Kofa (11-1) to the playoffs before being eliminated in the first round.
“She was putting balls in the back of the net but also putting the ball at her teammates' feet so that they could finish as well,” Velasquez said. “She just kind of did everything this year.”
Part of Rosales' success was due to her moving to the center midfield position — a spot she said she worked hard to earn.
“It actually was (a promotion),” Rosales said. “I was working hard and then they told me ‘Oh, you're center mid.' I was really happy even though it's like constantly running. I feel like that position is like the hardest because you're constantly running and you have to back up your defense and also help the forwards.”
Velasquez said she moved Rosales to the position because she was confident in her ability to make good, quick decisions on the field.
“I kind of consider it like the brains of the team — it's kind of like the quarterback,” Velasquez said. “She has great vision of the field, she knows when it needs to be dropped back or when we need to push forward quickly or when we need to be patient. That's why we had her in the middle.”
Even as an underclassman, Rosales is beginning to emerge as a leader on the Kings roster — although she is usually quite a reserved player.
“She is quiet, but when does speak though it's something like ‘Oh, it must have been important or something that really needed to be said,'” Velasquez said. “You can tell that she's getting more confident with her role as a leader on the team. She's speaking more — but she does all the talking with her feet.”
A team effort is very important to Rosales, Velasquez said. So much that in the final game of the season, she wanted to up her assist totals to allow her teammates to score rather boosting her total season goals. Velasquez said with time, she's liked to see Rosales focus a little bit more on herself and step into the limelight.
“That's the unselfish player that she is but I still need her sometimes to be a little more selfish. She's only a sophomore but she's getting a good feel for her teammates and knows where their strengths and weaknesses are. So I think she'll get it, she'll learn when it's her time to be selfish or when it's a time she can lay off the ball.”
Erin Redmond can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6880. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSErinRedmond.