Sofia Quijada reminded many soccer observers this summer that it is not how you start, but where you finish.
The New Hyde Park, N.Y. native was not in the Starting XI early on for the Long Island Rough Riders this past USL W League season. But by the end of the campaign, she was a vital part of the team, patrolling the backline as a center back.
For this reason, Quijada was named the Rough Riders’ Rookie of the Year.
“Not initially a starter this season, Sophia stepped up and made the CB position hers,” head coach Matt Lannon said of the center back. “Her reliability with the ball and defensive intensity made her an important part of the team.”
Earning team honors has become a tradition for Quijada as she was named the New Hyde Park High School’s team defensive MVP before entering college at Trinity College in 2021.
An important part of a team that finished second in the Metropolitan Division. The Rough Riders (8-2-2, 26 points) were a point behind Morris Elite SC (8-1-3, 27). The squad qualified for the playoffs, but lost to Greenville Liberty SC, 2-0, in the opening round of the playoffs on July 13.
Because she is a center back, Quijada’s worth to a team can’t be measured by how many goals she scores or assists on. Rather, defenders in general and center backs in particular are measured on how few goals a team concedes and how many clean sheets they record.
The 2022 Rough Riders squad surrendered only nine goals in 13 matches while recording eight shutouts, including five consecutive clean sheets to close out the regular season.
Quijada played in 10 games this past summer, logging 759 minutes.
After such a stellar campaign, Quijada has entered her sophomore season at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
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