Jocelyn Lopez, Abigail Martinez, Miranda Larranaga, Isaac Juarez and Gerardo Flores were supposed to play soccer at the college level this fall.
Lopez, Martinez, Larranaga, Juarez and Flores received heartbreaking news on May 12.
The California Collegiate Athletic Association suspended all athletic activities for the 2020 fall season.
The decision was made after the California State University system announced plans for a virtual fall semester due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“Nobody wants this but it’s something that has to be done,” said Lopez, a freshman at Stanislaus State. “This is going to be better for everybody in the long run. We just have to stay patient, motivated and hungry.”
“They believe that’s what’s best for everybody,” Juarez added. “They’re trying to protect the people.”
Lopez, a 2019 Central Valley High School (CVHS) graduate, started at center back on defense as the Warriors compiled a 15-6-0 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Division-II Tournament last fall.
Lopez’s outstanding play earned her a spot on the CCAA Second Team.
Martinez, a fellow 2019 CVHS grad, contributed at defensive midfielder.
“We made it to the NCAA Division-II Tournament last year,” Lopez said. “We were expecting to do better this season. We were going to have a really strong team. It’s super devastating not being able to play this year, especially for the girls that are seniors. I feel for them. You can take it as a negative or positive. We’ve been doing team workouts on Zoom. We’re counting on each other to stay in shape and on top of our grades during this time.”
Larranaga, a soon-to-be 2020 Ceres High grad, signed a national letter of intent with the Stanislaus State women’s soccer team in February.
“I found out today (May 12),” Larranaga said when asked what her initial reaction was when the CCAA canceled the fall sports season. “My mom sent me an article. I’m bummed. I won’t be able to play this fall. I was kind of expecting it because of the whole (COVID-19) situation. This gives me more time to train on my own and become a better player.”
Larranaga and other incoming Warrior players will continue to participate in Zoom workouts.
Larranaga trains in her backyard. “He (coach Gabriel Bolton) wants to make sure we’re exercising on our own,” she said.
Larranaga also talked about the challenge of distance learning in college.
“I’m nervous a little bit,” she said. “It’s my first year and I don’t know what to expect. I have friends and a lot of people that will help me.”
Larranaga helped lead Ceres High to record heights last winter. She starred at attacking center midfielder as the Bulldogs amassed an 18-1-1 overall record, claimed the Western Athletic Conference championship with a 13-0-1 mark and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs.
Larranaga earned second-team all-league honors.
She was the Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer.
Juarez, a soon-to-be 2020 Central Valley High School grad, committed to the Stanislaus State men’s soccer program in April.
“Coach (Morgan Cathey) reached out to all the incoming (Stanislaus State) players,” he stated. “It was a group text. He said it was unfortunate we had to suspend the fall season. But nothing changes. We got to stay strong and keep working.”
“It doesn’t seem real,” Juarez added. “It’s upsetting. But I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. It gives me more time to prepare. We haven’t had any team workouts (on Zoom). It’s up to us to stay active. The training helps you stay positive.”
Juarez was named Most Valuable Player of the Central California Conference during his final season at Central Valley.
He collected seven goals and two assists.
The Hawks posted a 20-5-3 overall record, advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II championship game and claimed the CCC title for the second year in a row.
Flores, a 2019 Central Valley High School grad, suited up for the Cal State San Bernardino men’s soccer team this past season.
He was named CCAA Player of the Week on Oct. 15 after he scored five goals at forward in two games.
Flores became just the second male soccer player in program history to register a hat trick in the past nine years.
The Coyotes went 14-4-3 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division-II Tournament.