Thursday, June 13, 2013

Freeman profiles CMH freshman, Emily Cervantes

from today's Waukesha Freeman -

Only a freshman, CMH’s Cervantes already making her mark
She’s being compared to former Olympian

Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA – John Burke doesn’t hide his enthusiasm.

Burke is in his 19th season as coach of the Catholic Memorial High School girls soccer team, and he’s seen some stellar players come through the ranks.

He doesn’t hesitate to put Emily Cervantes among the elite.

“She is the best player to come through the state of Wisconsin since Leslie Osborne,” Burke said, comparing Cervantes to the former CMH star who became a U.S. Olympian. “In fact, Emily Cervantes is better right now as a freshman than Leslie Osborne was as a freshman.”
Cervantes already has left a mark on the program. She has 101 points this season, with a school record 47 goals.

“Emily is more of an impact player as a freshman than Leslie was, so she has had a pretty big impact,” Burke said. “She has a lot of courage and isn’t afraid to take people on 1v1. That’s not common for many players.

“That is her most remarkable quality.”

Cervantes has been playing soccer since she was 5 years old, and she’s played a lot of club soccer growing up. Burke has coached her in club since she was 9, and she was more than ready for her first high school season.

“I didn’t really imagine it being this good,” Cervantes said. “Once I got on the team with all the seniors, they were all supportive and encouraged me to work hard. That was a big factor in me doing so well.”

Memorial, which will play in a WIAA Division 2 state semifinal Friday, enters tryouts with all players being treated equal. Freshmen aren’t forced to gather the balls after practice or carry
water for the team. Instead, they are put on equal footing and given every opportunity for success.

“That makes it a lot easier,” Cervantes said. “Everyone supports each other.”

Kettle Moraine coach Will Loepfe, whose team lost 1-0 to Memorial and did not allow Cervantes to score, saw the Crusaders make a push to get the ball to the freshman.

“They fed all the balls through her so she gets multiple looks in the game,” Loepfe said. “Every ball played was directed to her as a point forward, and she got a lot of good opportunities and looks at the goal.”

Cervantes uses Osborne, a former member of the U.S. National Team and the national Player of the Year in college. as a role model.

“I want to follow in Leslie Osborne’s footsteps,” Cervantes said. “Every time I step on the field, I want to give 100 percent
to get there. “I met her when I was 10 because she used to run some of our practices, and I’ve talked to her some.”

Burke has long known Cervantes would be a member of the Memorial program, and having her join the team the same year as his daughter, Maureen, has made this year even more special.

“I’ve known Emily for many, many years, and we were very excited about her coming to Memorial,” Burke said. “She’s been a childhood friend of my daughter since they were 9. To have one of my daughter’s best friends on the team as well this year is a lot of fun.”

Cervantes said she owes a lot to Burke.

“I couldn’t have made it this far without him,” she said. “He’s been there through everything. He’s the greatest. You can talk to him about anything.”

Cervantes has fit in smoothly on a Memorial team that lost only one starter to graduation from last season’s WIAA Division 2 state championship team.

“In my 19 seasons, there has not been a more dynamic offensive threat in the state than Emily Cervantes,” Burke said. “And she is a freshman.”

Photo credit: Robert F. Borkowski/Special to The Freeman Catholic Memorial freshman Emily Cervantes is dangerous with the ball around the goal. 

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