Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Emileigh Lara has played soccer since she was 3 years old. She knew that no matter what, her senior year at Roswell would not be her last time playing the game she loves. Lara was looking for a college not too far away from home when she decided to sign with University of Southwest on a soccer scholarship for next fall.
Lara met USW coach D’Angelo Garcia at a soccer camp last year, and after seeing the campus, Lara was impressed with both him and the campus. Lara sent Garcia a highlight video and started to talk to him about the possibility of playing at USW.
Lara went to USW in December, where she had a one-on-one with Garcia. At the tryout, Lara performed well on the goalkeeper drills she was put through by Garcia and the Hobbs High School boys’ goalie coach.
“I was a little nervous at first,” Lara said. “But I was more excited because I hadn’t played in a while. I was ready to get back out there and show off what I could do.”
Playing in state
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Lara became a full-time starter her sophomore year. One of the highlights of her soccer career was going to state that same year.
Lara said making it to state was one of the most exciting and crazy feelings for her. Roswell had been getting excellent play from senior Maddie Battle as goalie. The Lady Coyotes hung tough with the No. 1 team in the state, Albuquerque Academy. The game was tight in the first as it ended in a 0-0 tie at halftime.
“I wasn’t expecting any playing time,” Lara said. “I was extremely nervous when I was called on to play a few minutes. It was pretty scary for me; it was a corner kick. The ball came toward me and I was able to deflect the ball. That shot I deflected gave me a whole bunch of confidence.”
That play gave Lara confidence in her skills as a goalie which inspired Roswell coach Samantha Lawrence-Ward to let her perform at a high level.
Knocking out Clovis
“In the four years Emileigh (Lara) has played for Roswell,” Lawrence-Ward said, “she has dedicated herself to working hard during the season and offseason. She worked not only to improve her goalkeeping skills, but to improve her overall dedication to the Roswell High School girls’ soccer program.”
Lara’s favorite memory to date was her last game of the season against district rival Clovis, at Clovis her junior year. Roswell had not won any district games and didn’t want to end the season on a loss.
If Roswell would be able to win or tie Clovis, it would stop the Lady Wildcats from going to state. Roswell played one of their best games of the season and tied Clovis. In that game, Lara withstood two penalty kicks from Clovis to help knock them out of the playoffs.
“We really wanted that power,” Lara said. “Me and my teammates were excited to actually tie them and knock them out of state. It was amazing.”
As a goalie, Lara said the key to being successful is to have good hand-eye coordination. She said her quickness is an asset, which enables her to deflect shots on goal and to get back up and be in position to stop other shots.
Lara said another strength in being a good goalie is to have soft hands. But most of all, Lara said she is fearless: She will charge into a group of players to protect the ball.
Lara said she realizes she could get injured or kicked while trying to secure the ball.
“When I was new to being a goalie, I was afraid a little bit of being kicked,” Lara said. “As I learned more technical skills and how to do it without getting hurt, my fear went way. I’m not scared anymore. One of my favorite things to do is to have one-on-ones with other players and get the ball from them by challenging them.”
Lara says her success with penalty kicks is because she watches the player as they walk up to the line. She watches all their movements and will pick a side. Lara stays on her toes and is ready for whatever a player might do.
Another attribute that makes Lara a desired college prospect is her mental toughness. As a leader of the team, when she is scored upon, Lara forgets about it. Lara said she tries not to let others see her emotion. She wants her teammates to focus on the game and getting the point back.
For Lara and the Lady Coyotes, the game that gets them excited to play is when they see Goddard on the schedule. The teams have had fierce battles during her five years on varsity. Lara is hoping to face them one more time in her senior year. Another of her goals before graduating is to win a district game.
Lara said she feels more of an appreciation to be able to meet and do 4:1 pods. As a leader, Lara said it’s her responsibility to step up and lead the team but she says it is hard to do while being in pods.
“I like being around my whole team,” Lara said. “Me, being a senior, I feel like I have to step up and be a leader; it’s hard when I can only see 10 of my teammates at a time.”
No senior season
There is an uncertainty about whether there will be an athletic season for the 2021 class in all sports. If there is no season, Lara says it will be a huge disappointment.
“Honestly, it would be pretty heartbreaking,” Lara said. “I have looked forward to this year since I’ve gotten into high school. I have seen past seniors and how much fun they have had with their senior year. I want what they have, and now I can’t, and I’m not sure I will.”
Lara said she would like to play this last season with her senior class. It does not matter whether it is seven games, or a whole schedule, she said she would just like to go out playing games as a senior.
Lara said she would not be in this position without her parents, Chris and Sabrina Lara. She said her parents taught her to be dedicated toward a goal and to work independently, while never quitting and to give it her best.
“It’s hard to put into words the pride we feel as parents,” Sabrina Lara said. “We’ve always told our kids you have to work hard for the things you want in life. We are excited to see where this opportunity takes her.”
When Emileigh Lara is done playing soccer, she said she would like to be an athletic trainer.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or email@example.com.