Anabel Cortez is generally the fastest girl on the soccer field, sometimes even outrunning the ball.
She demands nothing but excellence from her teammates and is the first to dive on a loose ball or sacrifice her body for the good of the team.
During the game, the expression on her face is that of a cold-hearted assassin waiting for the opposing team to slip up. Opposing coaches warn their players to make sure she does not get a clear path to the goal, because once she is free you might as well count the goal.
“She is tremendous on the open field and has great moves,” Pierce defender Tina Nikkila said after a recent match. “I respect her game a lot.”
Anabel Cortez earns all this respect with a 4-foot-9-inch view of the world and a 99-pound frame, but her abilities on the soccer field are immense. She’ll be the first to tell you that her physical appearance is deceiving.
“Opposing teams think they can handle me on the field because I’m skinny and short,” Cortez says. “It’s easier to be short, because you’re closer to the ball and I’m really quick.”
Her ability to take over the game is evident by her team-leading seven goals. The many goals Glendale has put up are because of Cortez and her persistence in every play of the game.
Cortez is not totally satisfied with her play on the field. She looks to improve on her stamina so she can dominate in the latter stages of the 90-minute kicking and jumping session known as soccer.
The game entails a lot of physical play that includes shoving, pushing and diving. And these are just the legal aspects. “She seems tough, but height comes to play and she seems easy to push around,” an opponent said before a game against Glendale.
Glendale head-coach Jorge Mena describes soccer as a game of heart and desire.
He looks to Cortez to deliver both each game and has full confidence in his small star. A coach from an opposing team described Cortez as being very explosive and hard to handle.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Cortez describes herself as a very religious person. She begins every game on one knee and performs the sign of the cross the moment the ball is whistled in.
Cortez attended Grant High School, where she discovered her love for soccer and began spending hours playing the sport she loves.
“I love it; soccer makes me forget about everything and makes me happy,” Cortez admits. “I go with both of my brothers to the park and they push me around and show me some moves to use in the next game.”
She is still undecided on what she wants to do with the rest of her life, describing soccer as the most important thing in her life right now. She plans of focusing and making her sophomore campaign at GCC more successful than the first.
She is larger than life on the field, but off the field she is shy and has a tendancy to laugh out loud.
“I have a sense of humor and I’m really nice to people,” Cortez says before bursting out into laughter. “Soccer is just life right now.”