Jocelyn Lopez became the first female athlete from Central Valley High School to earn a college soccer scholarship this past month when she committed to Cal State Stanislaus.
The senior forward signed a national letter of intent with the Warriors on Dec. 5.
“It really is a blessing. This is exactly what I wanted. I get to continue my soccer career and further my education.Jocelyn Lopez
“It really is a blessing,” Lopez said. “This is exactly what I wanted. I get to continue my soccer career and further my education. It’s going to be fun for my family and friends to come watch me play. Whenever I look up in the stands, it brings me joy seeing my parents cheer me on.”
“From a personal reason, it’s a very good decision,” Central Valley head coach Miguel Larranaga said. “She’s getting a scholarship. She’s not going to be in debt. She’s going to stay close to home where family can support her. We can all go watch her play for another four years.”
Lopez was recruited by Stanislaus State women’s soccer head coach Gabe Bolton.
“Jocelyn will immediately challenge for a starting position this fall,” Bolton said. “Her movement without the ball is brilliant. She is the type of player that loves the responsibility of putting the ball in the back of the net.”
“I know what I’m getting myself into,” Lopez said. “If I put the work and my mind to it, I’ll have a really good chance of doing that (starting). I’m up for the challenge.”
Bolton watched Lopez play for the first time when she helped lead the Ceres Earthquakes FC Elite under-19 travel team to a 5-2 win over the Central Valley Surf Soccer Club in group stage play at the NorCal State Cup on Nov. 2 at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park. Lopez accounted for all five of the Earthquakes’ goals during the comeback victory.
“I felt pressure but I didn’t let it get to me,” she said.
Already considered Central Valley’s most-accomplished girls soccer player, Lopez has added to her resume this winter.
Lopez collected 15 goals and seven assists through the Hawks’ first 13 games.
She was named Most Valuable Player of the Western Athletic Conference last season.
Lopez ranked first in league play in points (49) and goals (22), and was third in assists (5).
She tallied 33 goals and nine assists on the year for Central Valley, which enjoyed its best season to date by making its first-ever appearance in a Sac-Joaquin Section title game, posting a program-record 21-2-2 overall record, capturing its third consecutive WAC crown, participating in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row and finishing first at the Buchanan Tournament. The Hawks climbed to No. 1 in the state and No. 12 in the nation in the MaxPreps rankings on Dec. 15, 2017 thanks to a 9-0-2 showing during the preseason.
Lopez racked up 63 goals and 34 assists in her first three seasons with Central Valley. The Hawks won 60 games and three conference titles during that span.
Her career totals for goals and assists were 78 and 41 as of Monday.
“It’s truly amazing what I’ve done these past few years,” Lopez said. “It took a lot of hard work to get to where I’m at.”
“She’s one of the greatest players Central Valley has ever had,” Larranaga said. “She’s very talented. She’s smart. She’s coachable. She’s a team player. She always tries to improve every game. That’s what makes her different from all of the other girls.”
Lopez started playing soccer at the age of five with the Ceres Youth Soccer Organization.
“I wasn’t the best,” she said. “I had to do extra training on my own time to develop as an individual.”
Lopez started playing soccer year-round when she joined Aklesh Singh’s under-10 Modesto Ajax competitive team. Singh coached Lopez for six-plus years.
“He really pushed me,” she said. “He built me as a player and person. Another person that helped me through this process is my current coach Miguel. He gave me the opportunity to excel in my forward position.”
Jocelyn’s father Carlos also made sure she remained focused on the bigger picture.
“My dad has always been my No. 1 fan and motivator,” she said. “There were times I doubted myself. He took me back to why I started this journey. My goal has always been to play soccer at a four-year university.”
“We haven’t seen her reach her potential yet,” Larranaga added. “She will improve a lot more.”