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Longtime friends, teammates play together for last time
• Lopez, Martinez end athletic careers with Stan State women’s soccer team
Abigail Martinez and Jocelyn Lopez
Abigail Martinez (front) and Jocelyn Lopez ended a 12-year soccer partnership that dates back to high school this past fall. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Standouts on Central Valley High School’s girls soccer team for four seasons, Jocelyn Lopez and Abigail Martinez welcomed the opportunity to play together in college.

The 2019 CVHS grads teamed up for the final time in November as key members of the Stanislaus State women’s program.

Lopez and Martinez ended a 12-year athletic partnership, which dates back to their freshmen year of high school. They played three seasons together at the club level.

“It was very emotional,” Martinez said. “We’ve been playing together since high school. Our connection is so strong because of that. We have a lot of history together. She’s one of my best friends. We’re thankful and blessed we got to experience college together. It was a dream come true. I knew we’d be successful because of how hard working we are.”

“It was nice to have her there along the journey with me,” Lopez said. “We’ve been through so much together. She’s a good teammate, leader and friend. Our connection on and off the field was pretty impeccable. It’s something I’ve cherished for years. We didn’t even need to talk on the field. Everything came naturally. It was easy to play with her. We called each other the Dream Team.”

Lopez and Martinez could have ended their careers following the 2022 season. But chose to keep playing after being granted an extra year of eligibility following the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Stanislaus State amassed an 8-6-5 overall record, finished in fourth place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association regular-season standings with a 5-2-4 mark and lost 2-1 in double overtime to Cal Poly Humboldt in the first round of the CCAA Soccer Championships this past fall.

“We had really high expectations for this season,” Martinez said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t win the CCAA. But we did make it to playoffs. It was still a good outcome. We learned and grew together.”

“My final season was definitely one to remember,” Lopez stated. “We got to travel a lot and play really good opponents. We still made it to the postseason, which is really cool.”

Lopez became the first female athlete from Central Valley High School to earn a college soccer scholarship when she signed a national letter of intent with Stanislaus State.

She was recruited to play forward but switched positions out of necessity.

She started at center back on defense.

“I definitely exceeded my expectations,” Lopez said. “Whatever position I was put in benefitted me and my team as well.” 

Lopez started all 18 games she played in during her final season with the Warriors.

She ranked second on the team in minutes played behind Martinez with 1,614.

“I was one of the older players on the team,” said Lopez. “I really had to step up and leave a blueprint for my younger teammates.”

Lopez was named Stanislaus State’s Female Freshman of the Year during the 2019-20 Warrior Athletics Awards Ceremony.

She started 20 of 21 games.

She ranked second on the team in minutes played. 

Lopez’s outstanding play earned her a spot on the CCAA Second Team.

“Mentally, I had to tough it out,” she said. “I was 18 going against girls, 20 and 21.”

Lopez was named CCAA Defensive Player of the Week following the Warrior’s conference title-clinching 2-1 win over Cal State East Bay during the 2022 season.

She also earned CCAA honorable-mention recognition.

“I’ve been on so many different teams,” Lopez said. “The No. 1 thing I picked up here was being coachable and a team player.”

Martinez was a late addition to Stanislaus State’s team.

“I’m the first person from my family to attend college and play a sport,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect. My freshman year was really rough. I worked hard to get playing time. As an individual, I did meet my expectations.”

Martinez was named team captain the past two seasons.

She scored once while starting all 19 matches for the 2023 Warriors. 

She logged playing time at center back on defense as Stanislaus State posted seven shutouts.

She ranked first on the team in minutes played (1,730).

“It’s an honor they trusted me in leading the team,” said Martinez. “It gave me more motivation and confidence to be a better player. One thing I focused on was helping the new and remaining players. I wanted to set a good example.”

Stanislaus State finished 10-3-4, claimed a share of the CCAA regular-season title (7-2-2) and reached the semifinals of the CCAA Soccer Championships in 2022.

The Warriors went 15-6-0, advanced to the NCAA Division-II Tournament and placed fourth place in the CCC standings (8-4-0) in 2019.

“Each year we played, we made the playoffs,” Martinez said. “We won CCAA championship rings.”

“Our class made playoffs all four years,” Lopez said. “That’s super cool.”

Lopez and Martinez both proved themselves and became starters during their time at Stanislaus State.

Their journey together started when they arrived on Central Valley’s campus. 

Lopez and Martinez helped lead the Hawks to 77 victories, one section finals appearance, four conference titles and four playoff berths.

No longer teammates, Lopez and Martinez both plan to remain close friends for years to come.

“I see her all the time,” Martinez said. “We live five minutes from each other. She’s one of my best friends. She’s a good support system. We’ve gone through a lot together. We’ll have a bond in the future.”

“It’s a good connection that is inseparable,” said Lopez. “Besides my family, she’s somebody I see year-round. She’s one of my best friends. She’s like a sister. She’s definitely someone I’ll keep in touch with for a really long time.”