Soccer team’s dynamic duo

Athlete Spotlight

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Jose ‘Chepe’ Ortiz and Jesus De La Cruz: CI’s top scorers

As winter approaches, CI boys’ soccer has risen back to the occasion. Starting with a 5-1-1,  the team is on fire and not likely going to cool down. 

Coach Adrian Garcia and his team took home the Pacific View League championship last year but came short in CIF. With a dominant starting 11 and a strong bench, the team looks to repeat as PVL champions and make a run in CIF.

Jesús De La Cruz and José “Chepe” Ortiz are in their final year of playing the sport they love here at the Islands. The senior forwards are ready to give it their all year and bring home the cup. 

De La Cruz leads the team with 13 points  and in goals with 5. De La Cruz describes himself as a “type of player who can create chances in a small area, who knows what to do when the ball is at my feet and who can play in position in the offensive side.”

De La Cruz is having a magnificent season, ranking No. 3 in points in his Division. 

“He’s one of those players that if you give him the ball, he’s going to finish,” says Coach Garcia.

Not all great players are made overnight. De La Cruz excels in his work ethic but he personally believes that he needs to work on his self esteem. 

“I tend to put my head down and lose a little bit of my faith when I play bad,” he said. 

Although De La Cruz is a very solid player, he wasn’t always in love with the game. “At first I really didn’t like it because I used to be a chubby boy who didn’t really like exercising or running. As time passed by I slowly started to fall in love with the game,” he says.

What is his motivation? His mother. He explains that his mother attends each game and that “I try to score or assist every time I have position so that my mom doesn’t yell at me for playing bad.”

De La Cruz wants to earn a scholarship to a university or better yet go professional. But if his goal does not work out he says he wants to pursue a career in the medical field.

Ortiz trails De La Cruz in points by just 1, but leads his team in assists with 7. He describes himself as a player that “is a threat to defenders and a player who can create deadly scoring chances.”

Soccer has always been the pathway for Ortiz. He explains that his father was the person who introduced him to the game of soccer and his been his inspiration ever since. 

“We would constantly play in the backyard every single day, whether that would be after school, family gatherings,” he said. “If we had a soccer ball in hand, just know we were going to take advantage.” 

Coach Garcia explains that Ortiz has taken a huge step in his leadership.

“Chepe is one of those players that you ask him to do something, he’s going to do it for you,” Garcia said. “He will become one of those players that’s going to play a big role in our success this year.”