MARION — Abigail Santana knows she always has the attention of the opposition.
The Linn-Mar sophomore would not have it any other way.
“I really do like that,” Santana said after her header goal in the fourth minute allowed Class 3A No. 10 Linn-Mar to defeat 2A No. 6 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 1-0, in a Mississippi Valley Conference girls’ soccer game Tuesday night at Linn-Mar Stadium. “It makes me better as a person and a player. It opens up everything for the other players. It makes me become better on the field and learn how to do better things.”
The extra attention is the byproduct of a fantastic freshman season in which Santana was named to the 3A all-state first team. Her willingness to turn that pressure into team success is evidenced by six assists in the first three games of the season, a number that already surpassed her all-state campaign.
“She really understands the game,” Linn-Mar Coach Marco de Leon said. “Whereas last year she would try and do a little bit more, this time around she is looking to be that player that is distributing.”
Santana scored her third goal of the season when fellow midfielder Samantha White launched a beautiful crossing pass from the left sideline that Santana headed past the Xavier goalkeeper.
Of her 12 scores in 19 varsity games, this was her first header goal.
“Actually, headers aren’t my strongest,” Santana said with a laugh. “But I’m glad I got one. Just put yourself in front of the ball and just do whatever you can to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Santana got her soccer start in Texas before her family moved to Marion when she was five years of age. She continued her early tutelage with the Heartland Soccer Club in Hiawatha and currently plays club soccer at FC Wisconsin Eclipse in Madison, Wis.
“In the summer, I will stay there for two to three weeks and stay with the family there,” Santana said. “I train with them as much as I can to get my speed of play up with them.”
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Before the season, Santana verbally committed to play collegiate soccer at Creighton. With the fruits of that decision still two-plus years away, she can turn her attention to helping improve the fortunes of a Linn-Mar team that has started the season 4-0 overall and in the MVC.
“I just feel like our team this year has a very strong capability of doing great things this year,” Santana said. “We have a great chemistry on and off the field, so that obviously helps. Our players this year have a lot of talent.”
Xavier dropped to 1-2 overall, 1-1 in the MVC.
AT LINN-MAR STADIUM
Class 3A No. 10 Linn-Mar 1, 2A No. 6 Cedar Rapids Xavier 0
Goal — Abigail Santana 1 (3). Assist — Samantha White 1 (2).
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