Photo by Cole Stratton

Six games into the season, one UWG soccer player has made herself known as an excellent goal scorer and teammate.

Mariela Ortega, a junior forward on the University of West Georgia women’s soccer team has scored three goals in six games, a feat that has put her in fourth place in the Gulf South Conference in total goals scored and making her a clear asset to the team.

“Mari adds an offensive threat that we haven’t had in a few years,” said Head Coach Marisa Kovacs.  “She has a nose for the goal and is so composed.”

“I am just trying my hardest,” said Ortega.  “Coach brought me over here as a forward to score goals so that is my job.  That is what pushes me.  That is my mentality and that is what I am here for.”

Ortega hopes to continue her success throughout the season, working to set team and personal records as well as an all-conference nomination.  According to Kovacs, Ortega’s skills could help her reach her goals.

“Mari not only can run at defenders in the open field, but can also get in and behind the backline with slashing runs and her deceptive speed,” said Kovacs.  “She can also set up her teammates with quality passes because of her vision.”

Ortega was born in Desert Hot Springs, Cali. on Christmas Day in 1991.  Five years later, Ortega began her career as a soccer player, moving her closer to her current position at UWG.

Ortega went on to play soccer at Desert Springs High School, culminating in a 22-goal senior season for the Golden Eagles.  After graduating in the spring of 2010, Ortega was on the soccer field again that fall, playing collegiately for the San Bernardino Valley College Wolverines, a community college in San Bernadino, Cali.

As a freshman at SBVS, Ortega helped her team to a 17-0-4 record, ending in a 1-0 win over Santa Rosa for the California State Championship.  At SBVC, Ortega was also given the honor of All-American Athlete, entered as an honorable mention her freshman season and on the first team her sophomore season.

“I saw Mariela’s film and she just had such an offensive presence about her on the pitch,” said Kovacs.  “I flew her in on an official visit and she had a chance to play with the girls and I knew she was one of the offensive puzzle pieces we needed to complete our 2012 class.”

Even though Ortega is in her first year on the UWG soccer team, she has already emerged as a leader on the field.

“Mariela leads by example and just has such a great work ethic both offensively and defensively,” said Kovacs.  “She always impacts the game and I think the younger players strive to work just as hard and make their presence felt as well.”

As this is her junior year, Ortega has begun looking toward graduation and beyond.

“It would be amazing to keep playing on a pro team, but we will see where soccer can take me.”

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