AOW: Central Union goalkeeper shutting out competition

February 12, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

When Central Union High sophomore Clarissa Maldonado decided to go out for the girls soccer team this year, she really didn't have high expectations for the season.

Why would she? It was in fact her first time playing the sport.

Central coach Nabil Noujaim even had questions about whether the 15-year-old would last on the team.

Well, with the regular season in its final week, Maldonado has lasted and has more than exceeded the her expectations and in the process has become the most dominant goalkeeper in the Imperial Valley.

On Friday, in the Spartans' 6-0 win over Holtville, Maldonado recorded her 10th shutout of the year in Central's 12th straight victory.

"Since this is my first year playing soccer ever, I really didn't expect to play as well as I have been. I really am surprised with myself," said Maldonado, who also shut out Imperial on Feb. 5. "But what's making this easier for me is the defense. Sometimes I might start to panic a little, but then they'll just talk to me and calm me down."


The defenders Maldonado pointed to as the key to her success were Brenda Galindo, Jamie Gray, Alma Gutierrez and Stormie Morton.

"Playing can be very difficult at times, but it can also be really easy. When the defense is hot and no one can get past them, it makes things easier for me," Maldonado said. "So a lot of credit has to go to them."

While Maldonado's play has been impressive, what's even more impressive is it is her first year playing the sport.

"Yes, I've been very surprised with how well she's played. But what's been the most surprising is how well she reads the games," said Noujaim. "That's something that's very important in soccer. A player must know how to read the game. And for her to be able to do that, having not played soccer before, is very impressive.

"She's a quick learner and also very competitive. When someone scores a goal on her, she gets angry, and that's a good thing," said Noujaim. "She's had a very good season and has definitely been a real asset to this team."

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