SOLEDAD — Soledad High soccer standout Sophia Martel finished her playing career as a Lady Aztec with a 5-0 win and a goal against visiting Morro Bay on Dec. 12 in Soledad.
Martel helped the Lady Aztecs improve to 6-1-1 in the pre-season and will be playing her next soccer game in Japan.
“Every senior has their last game and everything but mine just came earlier than a normal senior,” Martel said. “I’m graduating early and I’m excited about what’s coming ahead with Japan and San Jose State. I am also sad because I’m leaving all my teammates sooner than usual.”
Martel, the 17-year-old daughter of Jean-Paul and Yoko Martel of Soledad, will be leaving for Tokyo, Japan, soon to play with the Jumonji High School Soccer Club. She will play for Jumonji for seven weeks and then return to the United States to continue to train in preparation to play for San Jose State University next fall.
Jumonji has one of the better teams in Japan and they have a few players that have played on the national team.
Martel is also thrilled about playing soccer for the San Jose State University women’s team, a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I program.
“I’m excited to be able to play soccer at the highest level at San Jose State,” Martel said. “They (San Jose Spartans) play in the Mountain West Conference, and I’ll be traveling to states like Wyoming and Idaho to play games and all over California.”
Victor Garcia, head coach for the Lady Aztecs, feels that Martel is leaving a legacy behind at Soledad as a soccer player and as a leader on the field as a student-athlete.
“She is leaving a lot behind, obviously she broke the scoring record and nobody will be able to break that in the coming up years,” Garcia said. “A lot of these girls look up to her, along with all the upcoming players from the middle school and elementary. My job is going to be tough to try to replace her, and everyone will have to work hard to stay competitive with league coming up after the Christmas break.”
Martel set the Monterey County scoring record with 128 goals, including a solo goal in her final game at home against Morro Bay. She broke the season scoring record for Monterey County in the 2021-22 season with a total of 51 goals.
In addition, Martel helped the Lady Aztecs win the Pacific Coast Athletic League Championship in the 2021-22 season and was a leader in last year’s team that made it to the Central Coast Section Division IV championship game.