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Villasenor excels on and off field
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If Lucero Villasenor could turn back the hands of time, she'd change one thing. The Ceres High senior regrets not making academics a priority.

"If she had the grades, four-year colleges would be looking at her," said Ceres High varsity girls soccer coach Randy Cerny.

As a sophomore, Villasenor was ruled ineligible to play because of a sub-par 2.0 GPA. She's shown tremendous improvement in the classroom the last two years.

"I wasn't really thinking much back then," said Villasenor, who currently carries a 3.4 GPA. "I should have went to school and did my homework. I should have paid more attention."

Villasenor said she plans to play for the Modesto Junior College women's soccer team in the future.

"I think she'll do great," Cerny said.

"She's only going to get stronger."

Villasenor wants to transfer to Stanislaus State or Fresno State.

"I would like to see her play at that level," Cerny said.

"With a supporting cast around her, she'd be awesome."

It's not hard to spot Villasenor during a game. She goes full speed for 80 minutes. The fleet-footed forward poses a threat every time she touches the ball.

"She's always had good skills dribbling the ball and faking out defenders," Cerny said. "It has improved dramatically this year."

Villasenor plays much bigger than her size.

"She's got heart," Cerny said.

The 5-foot, 3-inch Villasenor leveled a Modesto-Christian defender, who had a six-inch height advantage, in an exhibition game.

"She put her out of the game," Cerny said. "It was a clean shot. Pretty impressive for somebody her size to put the hurt on somebody that big."

If Ceres had a better win-loss record, Villasenor would be in the running for the Modesto Metro Conference's Most Valuable Player Award.

"This is her best season to date," Cerny said.

Villasenor has scored 11 goals and dished out four assists in 14 conference games.

"Lucero is the best forward in the league," said Johansen coach Darrel Wilkins.

Cerny named Villasenor a team captain before the season started.

"She's doing a much better job at leading this year," Cerny said. "She's only missed a couple of practices."

Added Villasenor: "I used to be lazy. I didn't like practicing. Now, I actually want to do something with soccer."

Villasenor arrived at Ceres High in 2001-02. She earned honorable-mention honors as a freshman. Last year, Villasenor was a second-team, all-league selection. She tallied a team-high four goals and three assists in league play.

Villasenor started playing soccer at age six. She joined the competitive ranks following a six-year stint in the Ceres Youth Soccer Organization's co-ed, recreational league. Villasenor spent four seasons with the Turlock Tornados and two with the Ceres Earthquakes.

In March, Villasenor became a member of the Stockton Jaguars under-18 girls premiere squad.

"She changed my team completely," said Stockton coach Max Cervantes. "She added a lot more power to my offense. She brought what I needed, which was goals."

Villasenor had three goals and one assist en route to leading Stockton to a first-place finish with a 4-0 record at the 31st Silver State Invitational in Las Vegas.

In April, Villasenor and the Jaguars finished in the Top 16 with a 1-1-1 record at the California Youth Soccer Association 2005 State Cup. Villasenor scored four goals at the 44-team tournament.

In June, Villasenor will start practicing with the under-19 Stockton Jaguars. The season starts in September and ends in November.

"She's an awesome player," Cervantes said. "She's smart, skilled and fast. With dedication and good coaching, she can go a long way." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier