By David A. Gonzales
If they aren’t learning new songs on the guitar or studying intricate work in kinesiology, they are scoring goals on the soccer field.
Longtime friends Jennifer Roney and Crystal Sanchez’s chemistry outside the lines has translated into exuberant gameplay.
Roney and Sanchez took huge steps forward in just their first season on the girls’ soccer team at COC. Both players were among the top five on the team in goals scored, while also starting in almost all the games. In addition to netting seven goals each, Sanchez finished the season with 20 points while Roney totaled 16.
“They just have a sense of where the other is on the field,” said head coach Justin Lundin. The team finished the season with a 17-2-1 record.
This dynamic duo almost never happened as the two midfielders were set on attending different colleges.
Roney strongly considered playing at Pierce College and Sanchez had red shirted at Cal State Northridge the previous year.
When Sanchez decided to play for COC instead, both she and Lundin persuaded Roney to do the same.
“They convinced me for a month to join the team and be apart of a great experience,” said Roney.
“Without them, I don’t believe I would’ve attended COC.”
Everything seemed to come together at just the right time for everyone involved.
“It really was a long way around before we finally got both of them here, but it was well worth the energy,” said Lundin. “They’re both outstanding players.”
There are many positions in soccer that truly shape the team and decide whether the club will have success. Each player on the field must understand their role for the team to be cohesive.
Every position serves of great importance but none more than midfielders. As midfielders, Roney and Sanchez play both offense and defense, but must also be able to transition quickly. A crucial element in their game is to assist and find the back of the net, which they seem to have no problem doing.
Working well together on the field dates to 2014 when they first met at Bishop Alemany High School. The way they complement each other’s playing ability from their early high school careers until now is how they’ve been able to excel.
“We both have a similar sense of play and we’re able to read that off each other really easily,” said Roney.
Sanchez played at the varsity level throughout her entire high school career. She was the starting center midfielder at Bishop Alemany as well as Northridge Academy during her junior season.
After attending CSUN her freshman year, Sanchez made the decision to transfer.
“I felt like it wasn’t a good fit for me after my first year of attending,” said Sanchez. “Knowing that COC was a strong school academically, as well as having a successful soccer team, I decided to come here.”
Sanchez also plans on attending a four-year university once her time at COC concludes.
Recently, Sanchez switched her major from biology to kinesiology. Grades and soccer serve of equal importance for the newly declared kinesiology major. In hopes of achieving a scholarship for both academics and soccer, Sanchez looks forward to next season while also studying sports medicine.
Sanchez credited many people for their support over the years, but not too many more than her parents. Her mother and father have been very supportive with all the choices she has made.
“They have sacrificed so much for me and worked so hard to give my sisters and I the best life possible,” said Sanchez.
Her family pushes her to be her absolute best along with close friends such as Roney.
While Sanchez transferred to COC with a year of collegiate soccer experience, Roney did not.
Roney acknowledged that the transition from high school to college was a bit challenging for her at first. The jump to the next level presented tougher opponents with business-like attitudes.
Once being exposed to her new competition, she quickly adjusted.
“It’s easy to find technical players, it’s easy to find fast players, but it’s hard to find players that really read the game at a different level like (Roney) does,” said Lundin.
Aside from soccer, Roney enjoys playing instruments like the piano and guitar in her spare time and also likes to be active and play several other sports.
Roney is a communications major who hopes to improve speaking in front of large crowds. She has no trouble however communicating with her best friend.
“When playing with someone as close as Crystal is to me, we tend to communicate better on the field more than others since we understand each other’s opinions,” said Roney.
Unfortunately, Roney tore her ACL in the team’s final playoff game last season. Her absence will be a tremendous blow to the team’s momentum heading into next season.
Luckily, the Cougars will have returning midfielder Alondra Solis to turn toward. The former Female Athlete of the Week controlled the middle of the field just as Sanchez and Roney did. Solis scored nine goals last season along with 19 points.
With key players returning next season such as Kylia Bradford and Kiara Gunn, the team is shaping up to have another superb season. Many strong players are returning along with incoming players who will look to make an immediate impact.
“I have nothing but high hopes that this team will make history,” said Sanchez. “My teammates and I look forward to taking it all and coming out as champions this season.”