Andres Velasquez’s transition from high school to college was difficult.
The 2017 Central Valley grad accomplished a lifelong goal of earning a Division-I soccer scholarship but didn’t log a single minute of playing time with UC Davis.
“It was tough,” said Velasquez, a 5-foot-11 165-pound midfielder, who was limited to just practicing with the Aggies as a redshirt freshman. “I thought about leaving to another school. I got advice from a lot of people. I just stuck with it and kept working hard. I saw the competition. I knew I wasn’t out of my league.”
Andres earned the trust of his coaches and an active spot on UC Davis’ roster in 2018.
"You play how you practice. I practiced well. But there’s always room for improvement.”Andres Velasquez
“Towards the end of the season, I became a key part of the team,” he said. “I started the last seven games. It was a cool experience. I had so much fun. I don’t think I surprised myself that much. You play how you practice. I practiced well. But there’s always room for improvement.”
Velasquez played in 17 games this past year before suffering a season-ending injury.
He fractured his right foot while contributing at right defender in UC Davis’ 4-2 penalty-kick shootout loss to UC Riverside in the finals of the Big West Conference Tournament on Nov. 3. “It was devastating,” said Andres, who hurt his foot at the end of regulation and played in overtime. “I’ve never broke a bone before. I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Velasquez scored three goals on the year.
He was selected to the Big West Conference All-Freshman Team.
“I was thankful I got it,” Velasquez said. “It feels good to be rewarded for the way I played.”
Andres’ first career goal came against San Jose State. Velasquez’s game-winning header propelled the Aggies to a 3-2 win over the Spartans on Aug. 31.
“It was pretty cool,” he said.
Velasquez scored in the 87th minute as UC Davis topped Santa Clara 3-1 on Sept. 15.
Velasquez tallied the fourth-fastest goal in UC Davis’ history in a 2-1 victory against Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 21. He found the back of the net just 54 seconds into the contest.
He started six of the Aggies’ final seven games. UC Davis’ won five times.
Velasquez and UC Davis upset top-seeded UC Irvine 6-5 on penalty kicks in the semifinals of the Big West Championships. He converted one of the Aggies’ PKs. Andres played center midfielder.
UC Davis compiled an 11-4-5 overall record and finished in fifth overall in the Big West standings.
The Aggies fell one win shy of earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
UC Davis climbed to as high as 13th in the national rankings.
“Overall, it was a good season,” he said. “We worked hard at practice and it translated to the game.”
Velasquez wore a walking boot and used crutches for two months before starting his rehab process.
“I’m going to surprise everybody next season,” he said. “If I have a good season, I could get invited to the MLS combine. After that, there’s the draft. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Velasquez’s production earned him Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player honors during his senior at Central Valley.
He collected 24 goals and nine assists in WAC play.
Velasquez is considered one of CV’s all-time greatest players.
Ozzie Ramos (class of 2014) is the only other former Hawk standout to compete at the Division-I level in college. He started at San Diego State before finishing his college career at Seattle University.
“He’s definitely a role model in my life in regards to soccer,” Velasquez said. “He was one of the people that influenced me and made me change my ways in high school. I started looking at soccer in a different way. I’m probably where I’m at today because of him.”