STOCKTON — San Francisco State’s men’s soccer team is on the rise, and Weston Ranch senior Alex Gonzalez is hoping he can help the Gators continue their ascension in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
The All-Valley Oak League first-team defender signed with San Francisco State in front of friends, family and coaches Wednesday at the Weston Ranch gymnasium. Also present was teammate Joseph Mayorca, who announced that he will hold off on signing for another month.
“It’s an exciting day, of course,” Gonzalez said. “It’s great to know where I’m going but it also means there’s a lot of work to be done and a lot more work to put in. It’s going to get harder from here, but I’m up for the challenge.”
A proven winner, Gonzalez helped turn around a once-struggling program at the Ranch, as the Cougars claimed Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV and III championships — the first two for the school in any sport — and boasted a 48-6-5 record the past two years. He’s also part of state and national championship teams with Monarcas Academy of Stockton.
“The school didn’t have much of a history with the soccer program, and to come in and be able to help change that along with some great players has been amazing,” he said.
Weston Ranch head coach Francisco Cisneros called him “the anchor” of the team’s back line last fall. Cisneros admitted early in the season that the defense was a concern with Gonzalez as his lone returning back, but Weston Ranch only gave up 37 goals in 30 games and kept the sheets clean in its final two contests: 3-0 and 2-0 victories over Vista del Lago and VOL rival Oakdale, respectively, in the final two rounds of the SJS playoffs.
“He’s a very talented player and extremely soccer smart,” Cisneros said. “He understands the game well and is one of those leaders who is like a coach on the field.
San Francisco State has had two successful seasons under second-year coach Matt Barnes. The Gators went 7-6-4 last fall, marking the first time in 35 years that the team finished with winning records in back-to-back seasons. And they were led this year by their defense, which posted a school record nine shutouts while allowing a miniscule 0.72 goals per match.
“Education-wise, location-wise, everything about it made me the most comfortable going with that school,” said Gonzalez, who will major in physiology. “I already feel real close to the team. I feel like I’m already part of the school.”
He may not be the only Cougar heading that way.
Mayorca, the two-time All-VOL MVP, has offers from San Francisco State and CSU Stanislaus with San Jose State and NAIA powerhouse MidAmerica Nazarene of Kansas also expressing interest. He’ll soon make a visit to Chico State.
“I have a lot more options coming, and I really didn’t know 100 percent which school I wanted to go to,” Mayorca said. “They both (San Francisco State and CSU Stanislaus) have good soccer programs and are both good education-wise. I’m still waiting for possibly other options to come and hopefully by March I’ll have a decision.”
Mayorca scored 96 goals and 30 assists in his three-year varsity career and ranked third in the section this past season with 42 goals to go with 16 assists.