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CV grad fills key role as MJC womens soccer program soars
Elizabeth Amaya starts at goalkeeper for Pirates
Hawk Elizabeth Amaya, pictured in light blue shirt, helped lead Modesto JC to several firsts this year. The Pirates set a school record for wins in a season and won the Big-8 title. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Elizabeth Amaya lacked experience prior to earning a starting role with the Modesto Junior College women's soccer team in 2012.

The 2011 Central Valley High School grad/sophomore goalkeeper suited up for the Pirates for the final time in November.

"She had a good two-year career," Modesto JC head coach Steve Aristotelous said. "She started every single game this season. She didn't make that many mistakes. She helped us out a lot."

Amaya was a major contributor as the Pirates accomplished several firsts in 2014.

Modesto JC (20-2-2) set a school record for wins in a season.

The Pirates made history by capturing the Big-8 Conference title.

Modesto JC also ranked 10th in the Division-III National Soccer Coaches Association of America Junior College poll.

"It's pretty exciting to break records," said Amaya, who totaled 105 saves and allowed just 15 goals her sophomore year. "We worked hard to get to where we're at. We had a lot of fun."

"She was comfortable back there," Aristotelous said. "Four years ago, I didn't see that in her. It's night and day. Her confidence level increased. It's a stressful position. A lot of people don't want to do it. She wants to win. That's an important ingredient."

Amaya helped lead Modesto JC to a top-four finish in the California Community College North Region Playoffs. The Pirates compiled a 2-1 record.

The second-seeded Pirates lost 1-0 in double overtime to No. 11 Cosumnes River College in the semifinals on November 30.

"We tried our best," said Amaya, who tallied 11 saves in defeat. "We couldn't score."

Amaya made five saves during Modesto JC's 1-0 double-overtime victory over No. 7 Mendocino College in the quarterfinals on Nov. 25.

Elizabeth totaled six saves as the Pirates edged No. 15 Delta College in double overtime in the first round on Nov. 22.

Amaya registered eight saves in Modesto JC's 3-1 Big-8 Conference title-clinching win at Sierra on Nov. 7.

Elizabeth sat out the 2013 season.

"I never thought about quitting," she said. "I still practiced with the team. I just decided to focus on academics."

Elizabeth totaled 130 saves and surrendered 35 goals during her freshman year in 2012. The Pirates went 5-9-8 overall, finished 2-8-4 in the Big-8 Conference and lost 1-0 to Fresno City College in the opening round of the playoffs.

A redshirt freshman with Modesto JC in 2011, Amaya continued to work on her craft at practice and in other leagues.

"She started playing a lot of indoor soccer," Aristotelous said. "That helped her a lot."

Amaya played for Central Valley's varsity girls soccer team for two seasons. She contributed on defense prior to being converted to a goalkeeper her senior year. The Hawks posted a combined record of 4-17-5 in conference play.

"When I saw Liz at Central Valley, she was playing goalkeeper out of necessity," Aristotelous said. "You could tell she had athleticism. She had no experience."

"I got recruited in high school at the Pitman tournament," Elizabeth said. "I wasn't really a goalkeeper. I was just thrown in there. I didn't have that much skill. I got the hang of it. I learned a lot."

"I'm going to be moving to Hawaii," Amaya added while talking about her future plans. "I want to still play. I love the sport. I have to look into schools over there."

"She's a good kid," Aristotelous said. "She goes to school. She works a ton of hours. If she weren't so busy, she could grow more. She can play at the next level. She's a solid player. I've had a lot of good players from Ceres. I expect Ceres to keep helping Modesto JC."