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Banda continues career at Western Texas

Roswell soccer player Danielle Banda signs her letter of intent to continue her education and soccer career at Western Texas College Friday. Front row L-R: sister Abigal Hendricks, mother Janie Davies, Danielle Banda, father Frank Banda. Back row: L-R: Pilar Carrasco, sister Stacie Banda, RHS coach Samantha Ward, RHS assistant coach Ryan Davenport. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

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Roswell soccer coach Samantha Ward knew she had something special in the tall, freshman forward Danielle Banda. She had shown signs of excellence in practice, so coach Ward wanted to see what she could do in a game situation. Banda in her first varsity game as a freshman started and played against nemesis Goddard in a district game. Banda scored the team’s only goal in a 1-0 victory.

“My favorite memory was the first time I played varsity,” Banda said. “It was against Goddard at their place. I scored the only goal of the game to help us win. Coach Ward has been so supportive over the years and helped me work on the things I’ve needed to work on.”

On Friday, Banda signed to continue her education and soccer career at Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas. Western Texas is a junior college, and the Westerners is the nickname. Last season they made the Regional V playoffs for the second consecutive year with an appearance in the semifinals last season.

“Physically, Danielle stands out,” Western Texas coach Fanta Cooper said. “What made her truly stand out was her grace on the ball, the ease with which she attacked her opponents with the ball at her feet. That is a trait you cannot teach. I believe the transition from high school to college will be difficult at first for her, but once she has adjusted, I believe Danielle will have a tremendous year.”

Western Texas College is part of the Western Junior Athletic Conference. Members of the conference include Clarendon College, El Paso Community College, Frank Phillips, Howard College, Luna Community College, Midland College, New Mexico Junior College, New Mexico Military Institute and Odessa College.

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One of the things that caught Cooper’s eye was Banda’s feel for the game. Cooper watched the Lady Coyotes during their playoff loss against the Albuquerque Academy Chargers. Cooper liked the composure and grace in which Banda played with. With her lean frame, Cooper feels Banda has room to continue to grow into her body and excel as a forward in the future.

Banda started six games as a freshman, but since that time through hard work and dedication, she has continued to get better. In her junior season, she scored 11 goals. In her senior year, she increased her scoring output to 18 goals.

“Coach Ward has been really encouraging,” Banda said. “She has helped me push myself in the little things. I’ve grown in skills I didn’t think I had. I attribute my success this year to coach Ward working with me in offseason conditioning. We ran a lot and coach Ward worked with the forwards with our aim to keep the ball low to the ground.”

Banda’s work has not gone unnoticed by the coaches and media that cover District 4-5A soccer. She was voted All-District and All-State three years in a row. Banda before heading to college will continue to get better by playing three vs. three this summer. The reason Banda wants to play in that league is the field is narrower, and it will help her move and work on her passing. The goals are smaller, and it will help her work on her aim with her shots.

“We brought Danielle up in district games,” Roswell coach Ward said. “We brought her up because of her speed. In district, she scored five goals. She exceeded our expectations in district. We expected big things from her, both her junior and senior years. Coach Cooper came up to me in district and said, ‘I’ve got to have that girl (Banda) on my team (Western Texas). I love the way she plays. I love her attitude, her composure.’”

It was the first time in a long time that any of the teams in 5A had dethroned Goddard for the district title. Last season was a down season for Goddard, but it would take an extraordinary effort for Roswell to win the 5A title. After a 1-0 loss to Socorro, the Lady Coyotes got hot and won six of their last seven games to take the district title. On Oct. 14, they went to Artesia and defeated them 1-0, and on Oct. 19, they beat Goddard, 2-1, to win the district title for the first time in four years.

“Anytime we rode the bus as a team,” Banda stated, “it was so much fun. My teammates are really cool people.”

In the first round of the playoffs, Roswell had to open up district play against non other than Artesia at Cielo Grande Soccer Complex. The game was no match as the psyched-up Lady Coyotes won 3-0.

“It makes any parent proud to see their kid going to the next level,” Danielle’s dad, Frank Banda said. “It is going to be nice to see her going against other collegiate athletes. When she (Danielle) was four years old, she was the fastest kid out there. She would run those balls down. Her signing today makes me proud.”

When her playing career is over with, Banda would like to be a physical therapist.

Banda’s mother, Janie Davies, has always supported her daughter and traveled to all her games. The Westerners will play on Fridays and Sundays, so the family can continue to support her.

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