All games at 7
Gulf Coast at Lakewood Ranch
North Fort Myers at Estero
Naples at Ida Baker
Sarasota Christian at Community School
Estero’s Claudia Lopez stood on the sidelines at the Lady Wildcats soccer practice on Wednesday.
Coach Greg Bueno took no chances as Lopez rested from the annoying shingles in her right leg.
Estero (18-1-3) hosts North Fort Myers (15-6-1) in regional quarterfinal action at 7 p.m. on Thursday night.
“It isn’t serious, I just wanted to take it easy with her for the game,” Bueno said.
And for good reason, Lopez, just a freshman, scored 44 goals in her first varsity season.
Lopez scored two goals last week in a playoff win over Lely. She then topped it with an overtime goal against Naples in the Class 3A-District 14 title game.
Lopez got an early start at soccer when her parents, Rebecca and Claudio, gave her a ball at three years old.
“It was fun, I liked kicking it around,” she said.
By age seven she was competing. At 13, she led her Three Oaks Middle School team to victory in the Lee County Middle School soccer championship last year. She scored 22 goals in 20 games.
Her two sisters, Lavonne, 22 and Kayleigh, 20, both played Estero soccer.
Last summer she played with teammates Jessie Monteiro, Daley Cline and Taylor Hatch on the Naples Sharks. Those three, Bayleigh Jauregui and Larissa Depoy have scored more than 10 goals each and Monteiro has 22 assists, Bueno said.
Lopez spread out 14 assists to her teammates.
“I love to pass,” she said. “There are others who can score goals. I rely on my teammates. There are many weapons on this team.”
Jauregui said, in her three years on varsity this is the most solid and closest team.
“Claudia is a game changer,” Jaurequi, a junior, said. “The older players (opponents) expected to step on her, but she came out from the start with a winning determination. Claudia is learning to play at our level.”
Monteiro, a sophomore, said Lopez finds ways to get open, but it is also a team effort.
“I like to motivate the team, I am a leader in being positive and Claudia is a good communicator,” she said.
When Lopez scored the wining goal over Naples, she was greeted in victory by her family.
“I was so happy; I am blessed to have their support. They are my No. 1 fans,” she said.
During practice Bueno cautioned his team about North Fort Myers who lost to undefeated Ida Baker, 5-4, in overtime in the Class 3A-District 13 championship.
“You have to continue to do the extra things that will make the difference,” he said. “No one stands still, you are not potted plants out there. At this time of the year it is all about winning. I like our chances.”
Ida Baker hosts Naples at 7 p.m. on Thursday.