By Jorge Belon, Editor in Chief
At goalie, Athena Del Rosario is considered a stone wall to opponents. Dreaming and working to get to the university and pro levels at age 32, she is not the typical community college athlete.
In the world of soccer, most players Del Rosario’s age are winding down their careers and usually preparing to coach or become a TV analyst. However, the former Mira Costa High School Mustang’s career is barely beginning.
“I see a lot of professional women players retiring at my age,” said Del Rosario. “I want to play for as long as I can. The goal is to play for UC Davis, and then I would go for the [National Women’s Soccer League].”
Del Rosario recently set the school’s single-season shutout record with six after she blanked Antelope Valley College and earned the 11th shutout of her career. In the Western State Conference, Del Rosario sits in fifth place with 50 saves and is in second place in save percentage.
The South Bay native’s soccer career began when her father put her between the posts when she was 5.
“I always say I got stuck there,” said Del Rosario. “He [Father] put me as a goalie because I was uncoordinated, and since I was taller, it was natural fit.”
The sophomore goalkeeper continued to protect the net up until high school. After she graduated in 2000, she stepped away from the game and joined the working world. She became an IT analyst, and it seemed that her soccer days were over.
“I could not see myself doing that for the rest of my life,” she said. “I had enough money saved up to go back to school and get me started. I just had to leave that job; it was draining my soul.”
Then, 11 years after high school, she enrolled at Valley. Two years later, she would find herself back on the pitch.
“I remember reading the [The Valley Star], and I saw they had just hired a new coach,” said Del Rosario. “The article said that they were looking for players to try out, and I went. I was surprised that I made the team. I was even more surprised that I became the starter; it happened so fast.”
Her first season back in action was tough as the Lady Monarchs went 4-10-7. But Del Rosario recorded 137 saves and five shutouts.
Del Rosario was eager to improve so she hired a trainer in the off-season. Her work paid off as she helped the team start this season with the best record in program’s history of 5-3-1.
“Bringing Athena back was huge,” said Head Coach Greg Venger. “She is so important to our back line, and she is good. She has gotten better, and she helped us last season and she is going to lead us now.”
She finished her final season at Valley with 10 shutouts, and her outstanding play this year was awarded by the WSC as she was selected to the 1st team of the conference.