West co-captain keeps on ticking
March 1, 2011 at 5 a.m.
Updated Feb. 28, 2011 at 9:01 p.m.
Denys McCarter calls her the Little Timex, a reference to a durable brand of watches.
It's an odd analogy for senior Nereyda Martinez, but one that makes sense when you think about it.
"She falls down and she gets right back up and keeps going," said the Warriors soccer coach.
The senior center-midfielder has fought through a number of injuries to be one of the Warriors top players on offense and on defense.
It's a grueling two-way position that requires a lot of endurance and acumen for both parts of the game.
"She may be up there working on the offense, but at the same time she knows she may have to hustle back on defense," McCarter said. "For two 40 minute halves, she's going nonstop."
If the ball is being sent upfield after a missed opportunity, Martinez is almost assuredly going to be bothering the one with the ball.
Even injuries aren't going to keep her down. In the last game for the Warriors, a 5-0 win over Rockport-Fulton on Friday, she wasn't about to let it stop her.
"I hurt my ankle, and that didn't keep me down," she said. "I told them tape it up and got back in.
"I just have bad ankles, and I've worked through shin splints all season."
If they knock her over, one thing is certain: That opponent is going to pay.
"When they knock me down or take the ball away from me, I push myself more to get it back or just score off the free kick," Martinez said.
McCarter said Martinez supplies a strong work ethic to the Warriors, and is a reliable player at both ends of the field.
"She's our hustle, come game time she's very dependable," McCarter said.
But the offensive game hasn't come naturally. She's scored 16 goals this season, eight in the the Warriors eight District 59-4A games.
But she needed encouragement to take advantage of her natural gift for soccer on the offensive end of the field.
"This year, she's taken more shots on goals than she has in the past," McCarter said. "Last year, we kept trying to get her to take those shots. She's got great strength in the legs."
"Her and Jessica have worked together very well this year, and that's what makes that side of the ball so deadly," McCarter said. "They complement each other very well. If one is upset, the other is there to calm the other down."
Part of Martinez's job is to help facilitate the offense. Communication is a big part of her play on the field, because it helps her know where to put the ball and who to get it too.
"The forwards communicate with me a lot, and they give me passes so I can get the ball up there," she said. "We've been shutting out pretty much every team.
"It's been a team effort, we all work hard and push each other in practice."
It requires her to have a strong rapport with the Warriors forwards, and none is stronger for West than the one between Martinez and senior forward Jessica Mickey.
The two lead the team in goals, and Martinez helps to set up Mickey down field.
"They work so well together that their teammates look to them for guidance on and off the field," McCarter said. "Come game time, they are the ones the team leans on."
The two have worked together for several years, first as part of the Lady Vipers at Memorial and now with the Warriors at West.
But things really started to working together successfully last season, their final one as a program at Memorial.
"Last year is when we really started clicking," Martinez said. "She talks to me a lot and lets me know where she wants the ball. At practice, we work on some stuff. We just click."
Mickey said Martinez has been key in setting her up in the offensive zone. Her ability to find the open player, the senior forward said, has made for a winning combination for West.
"Nereyda really good at setting up plays, and she knows that if we work together, we can come out on top," Mickey said. "She's really good at seeing the open player and passing it to them.
"We work well together passing to each other. If she has the open shot, she takes it. If she sees me, she passes it."