For rising South High School junior Kristina Garcia, soccer is in her blood.
Garcia, whose father played for the El Salvador national team, said she was surrounded by the game from a young age and began playing at just four years old. While following in those footsteps might be a lofty goal for some, Garcia has held her own in just her first two years at South High School.
Leading the conference with 17 goals and two assists this past season, Garcia was selected as Conference Player of the Year and awarded All-County honors while leading her team towards a conference championship.
Taking her personal recognitions in stride, Garcia said going to the playoffs and winning the conference was the team’s greatest accomplishment this season. She said returning to the playoffs remains her goal moving forward.
“It means a lot to me to just keep working harder for the next award,” Garcia said. “I really want to help the team as much as I can.”
Along with her contributions to the Rebels, Garcia has competed against top athletes around the country on her club soccer team and was invited to train at elite soccer academies in Oregon, Arizona and France, South High girls varsity soccer coach Bill Neville said.
Even with all of her personal accomplishments, Garcia emphasized the “family” she’s found on the soccer team at South High, which she said has allowed her to enjoy playing at the varsity level.
“I feel like outside of school it’s more of a job when you play soccer but in school you can have more fun and you get to enjoy what the game is,” Garcia said.
Playing as a center attacking midfielder and outside midfielder this season, Garcia emerged as one top soccer prospects in Nassau County, Neville said. He also added that Garcia’s “skill and determination to win” had a “major impact” on the South High soccer program.
“Being marked most of the time by opposing teams, Kristina was often injured and roughed up,” Neville said. “Her strength of character refused to allow them to keep her down consistently, proving that she was the best player on the field.”
Neville cited one game in particular against Malverne last season as example of Garcia’s leadership and ability.
“South was trailing 0-2 at halftime facing an end to first place and our undefeated season,” Neville said. “Kristina rallied her teammates and scored three goals in the second half to help secure first place and maintain the undefeated season towards a championship.”
With aspirations to play soccer in college, Neville said Garcia’s abilities are being recognized by other coaches. But for her part, Garcia remains grounded and is determined to help South High soccer remain at the top of the pack in the years to come.