Changing schools is never easy. Doing it in the middle of the school year is even more difficult.
But, for Ysabell Hernandez and Mount Miguel, it was a win-win – literally.
The sophomore was attending Mater Dei Catholic in South Bay, playing on the Crusaders football team, when the family decided they needed to move back to Spring Valley for various reasons.
“Playing football allowed me to adapt quickly and make new friends,” said the 15-year-old, who already knew several Matador players.
Mount Miguel was 9-0-1 when Hernandez became eligible, but that record was built against most Division IV and V teams. Straight ahead were Grossmont Valley League games against teams from Division III Monte Vista, El Capitan and Santana.
The Matadors went 0-6 against those three schools.
“We play two divisions in our league,” said women’s soccer coach Ernie Reyes. “We knew what was coming, but we actually competed well with those schools.
“Things didn’t go our way in a few games and in the long run it helped us because it’s a faster game in Division III, and we were able to get used to that style of play. Ysabell had the used to play this faster style and she fit in perfectly.
A central midfielder, Hernandez improved everyone around her, especially in the Division V playoffs, where the Matadors went 3-0, beating their opponents 15-0, including beating Maranatha Christian 3- 0 in the title match.
It was the first-ever women’s soccer sectional banner for Mount Miguel, which headed to the state playoffs with a 13-6-1 record. The Matadors recorded another first with a 5-1 win over Los Angeles GALA on Tuesday at Mount Miguel in the Southern California Regional, before falling to No. 1 seed The Webb Schools 9-2 in Claremont on Thursday. .
It might have been awkward at first, but it wasn’t.
“As a soccer player, I was able to find my group more easily at Mount Miguel,” Hernandez said. “Everyone made me feel welcome, and even though the team didn’t have the skills they have at Mater Dei Catholic, where everyone is part of a traveling club team, my teammates here were working very hard.
“I looked like I could find Kenzie (Reyna, the team’s leading scorer) and of my 10 assists, eight went to him.”
Knowing she was going to play full time also allowed Hernandez to do what she loves most: passing the ball. When asked if she’d rather score – she had seven goals to go with all 10 assists in just nine games – or give the ball to a team-mate for a goal, she said the latter.
“It’s hard to beat that perfect ball through the defense that leads to a goal,” Hernandez said. “I’ve known Kenzie since middle school (both attended Lemon Grove Middle School) and that made it a lot easier. There’s so much energy in this team, and Julianna (Laverdiere) is a great captain. team. She set the tone.
“Although we lost a few games, you could tell the team were determined to improve. We just had to learn to play at a faster pace, so the second time against these teams we were closer. Before the Division V playoffs, we knew we would do well. We had a lot of confidence.
“By winning Division V, we made history.”
Hernandez still has a connection to the past as she plays at the club with the South Bay Rebels, which has several Catholic Mater Dei players. She loves both the club and high school.
“The club is definitely more competitive,” Hernandez said, “but high school is more fun. You’re on the team and on game days we wear our football jackets. The Mount Miguel student body is really into it. We even held a parade.
“What we’ve discovered this year is that when you think about it, you can actually achieve your goals. We did it, and even though we got seven senior diplomas, we will still be good next year.
Steve Brand is a freelance writer.