Nov. 12, 2002
By Bruce Martinez
The Santa Clara
True freshmen rarely have big impacts on Division I college soccer teams. This wasn't the case for midfielder/defender Micaela Esquivel, a true freshman on the woman's soccer team who is making a big impact.
Esquivel vaulted to near legendary status among Santa Clara soccer fans with one acrobatic move: Her Oct. 18 goal-scoring bicycle kick was called "ESPN highlight worthy" by the Broncos athletic Web site. The goal scored was the third that afternoon against Saint Mary's and the most memorable of the season. The goal was also preordained.
"A hallmate of mine who comes to all our matches had been asking me over and over to score a bicycle kick for them," Esquivel said. "Then it actually happened - it looked cool from what people said."
That moment of flash in no way sums up what Esquivel has meant for the Broncos this season. She has provided minutes in the midfield and also at fullback, which gives Jerry Smith's squad added flexibility. This past weekend, after playing most of conference play in the midfield, Esquivel was switched to fullback where she helped the Broncos upset the No. 4 Portland Pilots on the road.
"Jerry hasn't explained the position switch to me but it has worked well," Esquivel said. "I know he likes to try us in different spots before the playoffs to see where we all fit best at."
The former center midfielder has always been renowned for her field vision and was quite the accomplished athlete before checking in at Santa Clara.
Esquivel was named the New Mexico State player of the year as a junior and senior, finishing her prep career with 98 goals and 61 assists. She also won state titles in three track events including the 300-meter hurdles, the 800-meter run and the 1600-meter relay.
"Micaela has had a huge impact with the team," said sophomore defender Jessica Ballweg. "She is a good offensive threat and has scored some big goals for us."
All this success prepared Esquivel for her college transition, which has included many of the same feelings freshmen across campus have.
"It was a big change. There are no big bodies of water in New Mexico," Esquivel said. "Being far from home has really made me miss my family, including my three sisters and all my cousins. I was really used to having them around."
Feelings of insecurity living on campus can be compounded with pressures on the field. Esquivel had to handle these quickly, as she began the season as a starter.
"I was scared initially, but the girls have helped all the newcomers get into the system," she said. "You have to play your hardest at all times."
Losing one family to distance hasn't deterred Esquivel. She has slid right in with the Bronco soccer family and has received positive reviews from teammates.
"Micaela keeps improving every game and she is always open to advice from upperclassmen on the team," Ballweg said.