Video: Esmie Gonzales - All-time leader in career goalsEsmie Gonzales
says she loves being short and, at 4-foot-9, she really doesn't have a choice.
"It's never stopped me from doing anything I wanted," she quipped. "Except getting on a roller coaster."
The diminutive South Hills (Fort Worth, Texas)
senior stands above the rest on the soccer field — and we're talking all-time in the history of the high school game. She's scored 315 career goals, including a Texas state record 108 this season for the 18-5 Scorpions, who open playoff action Thursday.
Gonzales scored 74, 58 and 75 goals her first three seasons, and added an additional 66 career assists giving her a remarkable 696 points in her career.
The Southeast Missouri State University signee broke the previous national career mark of 285 goals, set from 1989 to 1993 by Erin Martin of Temple City (Calif.).
The night Gonzales took the national lead, she smashed the record with a nine-goal performance. She's also had games this season with 10 and 11 goals.
Asked what it feels like to be called prep's greatest goal scorer, Gonzales said: "It's sort of amazing that someone like me out of so many people in the United States could be number one."
But 10th year South Hills coach Jamie Southern saw it coming, though it was sort of by accident.
South Hills was playing an alumni game in 2011, but the alumni squad ran out of players. Sandra Gonzales, Esmie's older sister who played on the varsity team at the time, told Southern she knew someone could fill in.
"She said her eighth-grade sister could play," Southern said. "She said she was better than her. We needed a player, so I said, ‘why not?' "
Esmie scored four goals in less than a half.
"She was better than anyone on the field then," Southern said. "And I'm not sure if she was even four feet tall."
Blessed with super speed, quick feet and a relentless pursuit for the ball and net, Esmie has put the South Hills program on the national map, according to Southern.
"A lot more people come to our matches because of her. But she's still Esmie," he said. "All her teammates embrace and love her. She's really humble and not cocky at all. The other teams might not like her — only because she makes them look bad."
That's never Esmie's intent.
"I just have always loved the game," she said. "It's my passion. It's what I do to relax and get away from any stress."
She started playing at the age of four because her dad, Jose, played at a high level. She liked playing softball even better until she got hit in the nose with the ball when she was five.
"From then on, I liked soccer better," Esmie said with a giggle.
She's actually playing both sports now. She's a starting second baseman on the Scorpions district-championship softball team while breaking scoring records on the soccer field.
"Amazing kid," Southern said. "Amazing energy. She goes, goes, goes."
And scores, scores, scores.