Over the past three seasons, Carmel High’s Jordan Ataide’s shadow on the soccer field has grown progressively larger.
The senior’s reputation as an unrelenting attacker spread quickly throughout the Mission Trail Athletic League, and in an attempt to slow her down, Ataide was often surrounded by multiple defenders whose sole purpose was to stick to her.
In a non-league game during her sophomore year, Ataide scored two goals and before the match ended she had gained three marks.
“It really didn’t start until the beginning of sophomore year because I was new and no one really knew my game,” Ataide said. “That first game I was like OK, how am I going get past three people?”
That would be a question Ataide would ask herself countless times during the remainder of her career. Her accomplishments showed she had the right answers.
Ataide scored more than 20 goals in each season and finished off her career with a 36-goal season that put her over the 100-goal milestone.
“The biggest thing for me is that I have to keep moving or they’re going to get me every time,” Ataide said. “I use people that I have on the field and then I have to be creative and get open somehow.
“You’ve got to give it your all or you’re not going to do anything.”
An MTAL all-league, first-team performer for four years, Ataide’s consistent and effective work to overcome the challenges she faced on the field didn’t go unnoticed.
Late last month, she signed her National Letter of Intent to play college soccer at Chico State.
She’s the first female soccer player from this area since 2010 to earn a scholarship to a four-year university right out of high school.
Ataide’s will and skill also made her The Salinas Californian’s Player of the Year.
Quest for 100
Ataide came into this season with 65 career goals, and kept her sights on hitting the century mark.
She knew that would be a tremendous personal accomplishment, but she didn’t want the pursuit to come at the expense of the team’s goal of winning a league title.
“I really just wanted to play as a team more than playing for myself, because if you’re playing for yourself you’re not getting that whole camaraderie,” Ataide said. “Obviously we didn’t get the title, but we worked hard enough …They [her teammates] gave me their all, the whole team did, and I’m really happy with how we finished.”
Through the ebb and flow of the season, Ataide came into the final week of the season six goals shy of reaching 100 goals with three matches to play. She hit the mark on the dot in the second game with a six-goal effort — the first of her career.
“It was kind of surreal,” she said. “Once I hit that mark, I was like, oh my gosh, I actually accomplished it. I think it’s something to look back at and say wow I did that in my high school career. I have something to be proud of. If nothing else that is what I have.
“I couldn’t have done it without my team. I wouldn’t have gotten the 100 goals without the support from them. I really have to thank them for that.”
Ataide finished her career with 101 goals.
YMCA to Chico State
Ataide’s soccer beginnings started at the YMCA.
She showed an aptitude for the sport right away, and by the time she joined the Santa Cruz Breakers Academy in seventh grade she was hooked.
“That’s when it really turned on,” she said. “I think it was the coaching and the exposure that really got me.”
Ataide’s father played college football and her mother played tennis at a high level. Their competitive spirit and experiences rubbed off on Ataide.
“They know what it takes to be that college athlete,” she said. “They pushed me, but to the extent of what I wanted to be pushed.
“They told me you have to do this in order to get to this, but it’s only if you want to do it. They helped me get there.”
Ataide’s recruitment by Chico State began when coaches caught one of Jordan’s games during a club tournament. After the coaches expressed interest in her, Ataide attended a summer camp in Chico.
Ataide said based on her performance she felt she had blown that opportunity, but a few weeks later she was contacted again by the coach, and shortly thereafter offered a scholarship.
When she made it official by signing her letter of intent, she felt the next chapter of her life beginning immediately.
“When I signed that letter, I was like OK, I’m signing my future,” Ataide said. “I’m thinking about the next four years. I’m thinking about my future and what I can do at Chico.”
Top of their game
The All-County team is selected by The Salinas Californian sports staff. Players are selected based on their performances throughout the season and league honors.
* Kelly Smith, Stevenson, Forward: The junior led the MTAL co-champion Pirates in goals for a second season, tallying 27 goals — six more than her output in 2011-12. Smith was an MTAL all-league first team selection and was selected the league’s Forward of the Year. Outside of league play, she tallied three combined goals against league champions Santa Cruz and Alisal.
* Danielle Acuña, North Monterey County, Forward: Acuña exploded onto the scene in her senior season, tallying a Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division-best 21 goals. Her speed and deftness to finish at the goal earned her the league’s Most Valuable Player. She is a two-time, all-league, first-team performer.
* Kellyn Rodewald, Pacific Grove, Forward: The senior led the Breakers in goals (20) and assists (9) in her fourth varsity season. She was selected an MTAL all-league first teamer for a second straight year after registering seven multi-goal games, including three hat tricks.
* Daisy Villegas, Santa Catalina, Forward: The junior carried the scoring load for the MTAL co-champions, netting 23 goals and assisting on seven other goals. Villegas, who often broke down defenders with her nice footwork, was voted the MTAL’s MVP by the league’s coaches.
* Adela Hernandez, Alisal, Center Midfielder: Hernandez came back to play in her senior season after undergoing knee surgery and rehab in the offseason, and all she did was lead the MBL Pacific champions with 10 assists. She also scored five goals and was voted the league’s Midfield MVP.
* Anna Wilcoxon, Stevenson, Center Midfielder/Defender: The senior capped off a sterling career by earning all-league, first-team honors in the MTAL for the third consecutive season. A four-year varsity player, Wilcoxon tallied one goal and had four assists for the Pirates.
* Ann Graziano, Notre Dame, Defender: The four-year varsity player played a big role in the Spirits’ seven shutouts this season. The sweeper was voted the MBL Pacific’s co-Senior of the Year in addition to being an all-league, first-team selection.
* Victoria Barrera, Alvarez, Defender: The junior had a very strong year defending and pushing the attack for the Eagles. She was voted the MBL’s Defensive MVP as well as a first-team, all-league pick thanks to playing a role in Alvarez’s 11 shutouts and tallying eight assists.
* Salina Romero, North Salinas, Defender: A three-year varsity player, Romero not only earned her first all-league, first-team selection, but was the co-Defensive MVP in the MBL Gabilan. Romero was a part of five shutouts and also tallied two goals.
* Cynthia Camacho, Salinas, Defender: Two years on varsity and two years a first-team, all-league performer. The sophomore shared the MBL Gabilan’s Defensive MVP honors and also showed her scoring prowess with six goals, tying her for second most on the Cowboys’ squad.
* Xochitl Camacho-Lopez, Salinas, Goalkeeper: The four-year varsity player registered 50 saves in shared duties, earning her the MBL Gablian’s Senior MVP and a spot on the all-league, second team. second-team. She played a part in five shutouts for the Cowboys.
* Ramon Hernandez, Alisal, Coach of the Year: After three years of hard work and determination, Hernandez guided the Trojans to the MBL Pacific title — the program’s first league title since 2005-06. Alisal, which finished 16-4-1 this year, went on to win its playoff opener, marking the first Central Coast Section win in school history.