Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009 | 11:59 p.m.
Though the Southeast Career Technical Academy's girls soccer team was eliminated from playoff contention on Feb. 11, there has been a definite bright spot for the future of the Roadrunners in the form of freshman forward Rachael Montoya.
Montoya led the Roadrunners to a 2-5-4 record in the Southeast Division, scoring a team-high 14 goals.
Montoya came to the Roadrunners from the Foothill zone to follow her Henderson United Youth Soccer coach Jose Oceguera, an assistant in the program. Montoya said she enjoyed her relationship with Oceguera and left her middle school classmates behind to play soccer for Tech.
"It wasn't really that hard of a decision for me," Montoya said. "My (Henderson United) team won four championships with (Oceguera). He taught me everything I know so I wanted to keep playing for him. I guess all my friends are going to Foothill but that wasn't as important to me."
Tech coach Josh Jones said Montoya has provided the Roadrunners an offensive threat the team has been without in recent years.
"Rachael doesn't play like a freshman," Jones said. "She doesn't back down or let opponents get her intimidated. She challenges anyone and she puts herself into a position to score with her speed."
Senior midfielder Fany Corona said she was surprised to see a freshman excel so quickly and change the dynamic of the team.
"Rachael is a hard worker with a lot of speed," Corona said. "She's well conditioned and she understands the game. You don't expect that from a freshman. Last year I was playing forward, but with her here, I can move back and play more defense which has been better for us."
Montoya said she didn't expect to have such a successful freshman campaign and was humble about her standout year.
"I'm kind of surprised when I hear how many goals I have," Montoya said. "I guess I worked for it. I just try to play my game."
She said the team gradually improved throughout the season. She sees the trend continuing at a quicker pace next season.
"We have a lot of younger girls on the team but we all know how to work together now," she said. "We critique each other and help each other out. We have a feel for each other now so I think we can keep getting better."
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.