Nov. 4, 2004
By E. Hussey
The Santa Clara
For the past 14 years Tina Estrada has had a soccer ball at her feet. Now a sophomore at Santa Clara, Estrada leads the Broncos with seven goals and 17 points in the 2004 season.
However, her stacked resume does not reflect her true colors.
"You would think someone who can score those kind of goals on our team must be so focused and so serious and so disciplined, but Tina (Estrada) enjoys life, is happy-go-lucky, and is just pretty much a goofy kid," Head Coach Jerry Smith said.
Born and raised in Fremont, Coach Smith was able to see her progress as a forward. Her talents as a youth player made a lasting impression.
"My first impression was what a great goal scorer," he said.
Estrada, who was the 12th-best recruit in 2002, has posted three game-winning goals this season. Two of which have been from headers.
"It's not always the number of goals you score, but the type of goal that you can score," Smith said. "Diving backward and putting a depth touch on a header into the goal behind the catcher's reach -- those are pretty spectacular goals."
However, when it comes to scoring goals, Estrada explained that she isn't trying to make a trademark, but rather simply to contribute to her team.
"It's just pretty much anything to get the ball in the goal," Estrada said. "Like use your head, use your knee, use whatever you can. If a header will do it, I'll do it."
Sophomore midfielder Tiffany Roberts, who is also Estrada's roommate and close friend, agreed that her true talent is finishing goal attempts.
"Tina can place it anywhere," Roberts said. "She will be able to place it exactly where she wants it, she is unbelievable at it."
Estrada is also seen as a leader on the field because of her talent with scoring.
"People look up to her because she is a talented player," Roberts said. "She is not the type of person that is going to say 'this is what you have to do, do it.' She is a leader because of the way she plays."
Estrada, however, believes that her role on the team isn't really one of leadership.
"I don't really know, if I am a leader type of person," said Estrada, while spouting a subtle laugh. "I guess my role is to make sure everyone is having a good time. That everyone is smiling and having fun."
Regardless of Estrada's positive outlook, she does at times become frustrated with her performance.
"Like a lot of good forwards, goal scorers, she is a little temperamental, maybe a little moody," Smith said.
He explained how being a forward is the "single most difficult thing to do" in the sport of soccer. Not only do forwards have bigger and more aggressive defenders making it their job to stop goal attempts, but there is only between a 10 to 20 percent success rate of scoring on a given shot attempt.
Assistant Coach Erin Hussey, who is no relation to the reporter, added how Estrada will immediately slump down if one of the coaches or she herself believes she could have finished a goal attempt better, even during practices.
"Her expectations for finishing are very high and when she doesn't meet that level, she gets a bit down," Hussey said.
In addition to scoring goals for the Broncos, Estrada must make "unselfish runs" that allow for her teammates to take opportunities at scoring. She has been trying to improve on this "off the ball" skill since her freshman year.
"Jerry (Smith) has been on me ever since I came here about off the ball movements," Estrada said with a smile. "He says, 'you know what, just write it on your hand before the game so you can see it right there, off the ball.' I haven't done it yet, but maybe some day."
With only one game left in regular season play, both Estrada and her coaches want to see her contribute both off and with the ball.
"For us to win the game we have to score some goals," Hussey said matter-of-factly. "So hopefully she is contributing to that with either an assist or creating dangerous opportunities for our team whether it's passing the ball or heading or finishing."
Estrada is confident that her team will make it to the Final Four. "We all know that we are good enough to be in the finals," she said. "I think it will be disappointing if we don't make it that far -- if we don't push ourselves to make it that far. It will be sad because we know we can be there."
As for life after Santa Clara, Estrada, who still is undeclared, doesn't know what she wants to do.
" I could coach, but I would want to coach little kids," Estrada said. "I feel like I connect better with them. I just like to mess around and goof off. If soccer gets too serious it's not fun and you need to have fun while you are doing it, otherwise it's pointless."