HARLINGEN — As a center midfielder, Harlingen High’s Serena Escobar is the engine that makes the Lady Cardinals go.
“She pressured the ball, she wanted the ball and she knew how to distribute to every player on the team,” Harlingen High coach Debra Galvan said. “She knew how to incorporate everybody on the field.”
She is The Valley Morning Star’s 2020 All-STAR Most Valuable Player.
“She was definitely (our team’s) MVP,” said. “So for her to get the (All-STAR MVP award), it surely means a lot to her.”
Galvan said the Ranger College-bound senior and the Lady Cardinals’ team captain is a proven leader who made significant strides during each of her four years as a varsity letterwinner. She tallied seven goals and 11 assists during her final season in red and black, helping Harlingen High clinch a playoff spot in District 32-6A.
“For me, there’s always room for improvement,” Escobar said. “I just wanted to improve on what I already know about the game. Little things like touches, my footwork and getting my name out there so I could go to college and play (at the next level).”
Escobar said she organized meetings with her current and soon-to-be new teammates last summer in the midst of their club soccer league, and that the girls “clicked really fast.”
“She was one of those players where if she was missing on that field, it showed,” Galvan said. “The girls looked up to her. As a coach, I was able to let her know what I expected from the team, and she would let the girls know. … If I asked her to do something, she would do it and she would have the other girls do it as well.”
One of the hallmarks of Escobar’s tenure with the Lady Cardinals was her leadership, only rivaled by her play on the field.
“I think that the upperclassmen and underclassmen were really open to learning about each other,” Escobar said. “And learning skills from each other. That made our chemistry better, because our communication on and off the field made it work.”
Galvan recalled the first time she saw Escobar showcase her range, when she scored a goal from midfield during a tournament in McAllen.
“She has a (strong) leg on her,” Galvan said. “I think that was her turning point to know just how much power she had behind her.”
Escobar’s absence following a twisted ankle she suffered against Harlingen South was yet another indication of her importance to her squad.
“Without her we wouldn’t be the same team,” Galvan said. “She will definitely be missed, and she’s going to be a player that’s going to be hard to replace.”
The Valley Morning Star’s 2020 Girls All-STAR Soccer Team
Most Valuable Player
Serena Escobar, Harlingen High
Offensive Player of the Year
Sarah Grace Garza, Harlingen South
Defensive Player of the Year
Korynne Reininger, Harlingen South
Utility Player of the Year
Joscelyn Liscano, La Feria
Newcomer of the Year
Maya Quinones, Harlingen High
Coach of the Year
Omar Pedroza, Harlingen South
Forwards: Monique Rodriguez, Harlingen High; Kaitlynn Pena, Rio Hondo
Midfielders: Sandra Lopez, Harlingen South; Caroline Grannum, Harlingen South; Olivia Olivarez, Harlingen South; Vanessa Alcala, San Benito
Defenders: Lauren Powell, Harlingen High; Vanessa Villanueva, Rio Hondo; Lorena Barron, San Benito; Kaitlyn Longoria, La Feria
Goalkeeper: Joana Marquez, Harlingen South