Soccer serves as anchor in life for girls’ varsity players


Audrey Strembicki

Senior Raisa Lugo tries to beat a defender vs. Wekiva on Jan. 29.

This story was originally published in the fourth edition of The Lion’s Tale (February 7, 2021).

The Oviedo High School girls’ soccer team, currently 12-0-1, has achieved fifth place in MaxPreps’s rankings in the state and ninth nationally. This kind of performance has become commonplace for the girls’ soccer program at Oviedo.

The outstanding star this year has been sophomore Valentina Amaral. Amaral had 11 goals this season, including a hat trick against Lyman to secure the win. She also gave the Lions six assists over the course of the year. Other players who made an impact this season include Kyleigh Thelen, who scored five goals, Raisa Lugo, who notched four, and Peyton Massie with three. Abbie Davis and Ryleigh Holcomb each contributed four assists.

Amaral is one of three triplets who play soccer at Oviedo- her brothers Filippo Amaral and Lorenzo Amaral are on the boy’s varsity team.

“What draws me to soccer is more like my family and my brothers; everyone’s kind of drawn to the sport, and it’s definitely something I want to pursue in college and hopefully professionally,” Valentina said.

The girls’ soccer team has competed hard all year, and the sport plays a central role in the lives of many of the players, including senior goal keeper Amanda Waggoner.

“This might sound pathetic, but I have never thought about what my life would be like without soccer,” Waggoner said. “I have been playing soccer since I was 11 years old, and before that I did so many other different sports.”

The game can also serve as a respite from the difficulties of life.

“Soccer is an escape if I’m feeling blue, stressed or just not myself,” Waggoner said. “I know soccer will always have my back because it only makes me think about the thing I love playing.”

Amaral agreed with this statement.

“You can really escape from all your problems from the amount of time that you’re playing,” Amaral said.

For many athletes, while they may try to prioritize school and family, their sport is their true passion, the thing that makes their world go round. Whether they play just as a hobby, or have a lifelong dream of playing professionally, a sport can be a rock in an athlete’s life.

”My mentality would not be as stable as it is without soccer,” Waggoner said. “Whenever i’m stressed about school, friends, or college, I know soccer will always be there for me because it makes me think about the thing I love.”

In the face of challenges, the Oviedo Girls soccer team has continued to persevere. After their late season defeat last year, they are fueling up to make a postseason run this year.

“This soccer team has taught me competitiveness, hard work and how to be an even better soccer player,” Waggoner said. “I also have met many new friends along the way that face the same challenges I do.”