by Santino Torres / Staff Reporter
Roosevelt University senior Monica Muñoz, known by teammates and coaches simply as “Moni,” missed all of last season for the women’s soccer team after a leg injury forced her off the pitch. Now that she’s back, she has become the leading goal scorer for the team.
“She’s able to win every one-on-one, she scores almost all of our goals and she’s able to create plays,” said Alexis Kane, fellow teammate and sophomore defender/midfielder for the Lakers.
“Last year, we didn’t have her due to a knee injury and honestly, having her this year helped the Roosevelt women’s soccer team have a name,” she added.
Without Muñoz last season, some said they felt as though there was a huge void on the Roosevelt women’s soccer team in her absence.
“[Muñoz is] one of our captains, a leader and a role model,” said women’s soccer head coach Luke Blakely. “When you have senior players who have been around a long time, what we’re really looking for is a role model for people to look up to, for the young players.”
Muñoz’s first game back against Harris-Stowe State University saw her open up the campaign with the team’s first goal of the season. Muñoz described that first goal as “a wonderful feeling.”
“I felt really good inside, really excited,” said Muñoz.
She tallied in each of the Lakers’ first three games, with two of them being crucial second half goals. The goal against Harris-Stowe State University guided the Lakers to a 1-1 tie, while her goal against Bethel was the game winner.
On Oct. 16, the Lakers’ attack found its rhythm largely in part due to Muñoz’s performance. She opened and closed the scoring, and was responsible for three out of the five goals scored by the Lakers in their match against Calumet College of St. Joseph (CCSJ). She quickly capitalized on an offensive opportunity in the eighth minute, and would later assist a goal from midfielder Alaina Force, which was the first of her Roosevelt career.
“One of the things that really stands out is the soccer I.Q.,” said Blakely. “When you’re in a game that we played, where there’s a little more space and a little more time, everything just gets excelled. We needed somebody to create chances: penetrating balls, being able to turn them around and get behind the back line. Moni definitely has the vision to be able to do that, to thread the ball through, but then also to continue in joining the attack and get some goal-scoring opportunities herself.”
“She’s a very important player to the team in the aspect of being one of our best players and being an amazing captain and leader,” Kane said. “She works hard until the end of the game and doesn’t give up on anyone…I look up to her not only as a player on the field but also as a person.”
With four different Lakers scoring goals so far this year, Roosevelt earned their second win by turning in the best offensive performance of the season, defeating the CCSJ Crimson Wave 5-0. More importantly, Roosevelt had picked up the first conference win of the season.
“I played on that field a few times before,” Muñoz said about the game. “The feeling of recognition of the field, I also knew some of the players from the other team, too. So, it just felt really natural to play against them. My teammates, everybody seemed really positive before the game, everybody was in a good mood. So, I think that all factored into a 5-0 win.”
“She’s also had a lot of success,” said Blakely. “She is all-conference, so she’s been achieving some individual goals, which we want all of our players to aspire to because they help propel the team. We’re looking for those role models and those leaders on and off the field: to be responsible, to be respectful, to work hard, and she definitely checks all of those boxes.”
In addition to her standout performance on the pitch, the ambition that Muñoz shows there is the same ambition she shows in the classroom. Projected to graduate in 2020, she is currently majoring in Elementary Education. As she is a leader and role model for her teammates on the pitch, Muñoz is on track to become a leader and role model for future generations of potential Lakers in their classrooms. “I’m hoping to finish my student teaching this spring, graduate, and become a teacher,” Muñoz said.