Maddie Vasquez literally grew up on the local soccer fields including the one at Live Oak High, where her dad, Tony, is the longtime girls soccer coach. Whenever Tony was coaching a game, Maddie was there, running on the field and kicking the ball around during halftime.
“Since I was 2 years old I’ve been on this field,” she said. “It’s crazy because I remember for the longest time watching the high school girls and now it’s me playing for Live Oak, which is kind of crazy.”
Vasquez is one of the key reasons why the Acorns are in contention for a Blossom Valley League Santa Teresa Division championship. Entering the week, Piedmont Hills and Santa Teresa were tied for first place with 27 points, followed by Live Oak and Evergreen Valley, who had 24 points each.
Vasquez has made an immediate impact in her freshman season. If the Acorns are controlling the possession, it’s because Vasquez, Andrea Gonzalez, Alex Bergholz and Athena Guevara are playing well.
Vasquez has tremendous dribbling skills and distributes the ball well. Gonzalez and Bergholz are both strong with the ball and they win a lot of 50-50 balls. Gonzalez scored two goals and Bergholz, Guevara and Vasquez had one each in a 5-2 win over Overfelt High on Feb. 4.
The Acorns did all of their scoring in the first half before cruising to the finish.
“It was a little frustrating in the second half because we gave up goals that were unnecessary,” said Vasquez, who recently transitioned to playing her club ball with MVLA, one of the area’s top programs. “We just have to keep our heads up and finish strong.”
Gonzalez admitted it was tough to stay mentally in the game for the final 40 minutes because of how easy the team scored in the first half.
“We just kind of conked out a little bit in the second half,” she said. “Kind of cruised through it.”
Tony Vasquez wasn’t able to be on the bench due to Covid protocols, but the team didn’t need him because the Acorns are clearly better than the Royals. Maddie said playing for her dad is demanding “because he expects a lot from me.” However, Maddie has transitioned well and usually records a goal or assist—or both—every game.
Gonzalez has also scored her fair share of goals, often taking players one on one and using her body to shield the ball away from them and before unleashing a strong shot on a moment’s notice. Gonzalez knows the team must tighten up the little things to win a league title.
“We need to communicate well, talk more and build our passing because I feel like we’re really good offensively and we just need to work a little more in the back,” she said. “But we’re progressing and that’s all you can ask for.”
Bergholz plays a versatile game and doesn’t shy away from the physicality of the game. She also possesses a rocket shot but combines that with a nice touch.
“Alex’s skills are very diverse on the field,” Gonzalez said. “She can play defense, forward and midfielder, which is pretty good because a lot of players are on different levels on our team so we’ve been working hard on our chemistry.”
Gonzalez and Guevara have played on the same team since they were 8 years old, and they’ve built a lot of memories together in that time.
“We work well together and we also have that connection with Maddie because we’ve known her since our freshmen year,” Gonzalez said.
Ashley Brink has been solid at defender and Avery Smith has done a nice job stepping in at goalkeeper after the team lost its original starter early in the season.
“Avery was originally a field player and has had some nice saves,” Gonzalez said. “And Ashley already knows what she can do and what Tony expects of her, and that’s a huge positive for us.”
Gonzalez is back to full health after tearing her meniscus two years ago. She returned to the field last year and though she wasn’t at her best, it set her up for a strong 2021-2022 campaign.
“I was still transitioning back into the field last year and my conditioning wasn’t the best,” she said. “It was definitely hard, but I got through it and I knew this season would be better.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected] and (831) 886-0471, ext. 3958.