Jimenez signs with Laurel
Chase all-conference goalie Ansoni Jimenez helped build the Trojan soccer program. Now he hopes to do the same on the college level for Laurel University. Earlier this week, Jimenez became the first Trojan soccer player to sign with a collegiate program.
"That makes me so proud, knowing that I am the first one from Chase," Jimenez said. "It means a lot to me, my coach, and my family."
"We only started a soccer program seven years ago and Ansoni has been with me the whole time, starting with the middle school," Chase head coach Greg Deshommes said. "To have him sign with a college is special because of how Ansoni has matured as a player, and we have developed as a program. I will miss him so much next year."
Laurel University, located in High Point, North Carolina, will begin its soccer program in the 2014-15 season as a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) on the association's Division I level.
"[Deshommes] was the one who first told me about them," Jimenez said of Laurel. "So I looked into them. I liked their aggressive style and liked the coach."
Laurel coach Zac Pierce was equally impressed with Jimenez and plans to pull him from between the pipes up to midfield to fit an aggressive 5-3-2 system.
"I actually had no idea that Ansoni was a keeper until late in the process," Pierce said. "That will be a nice insurance policy to have, but we plan to play him in the midfield. We scrimmaged a local club team and when he moved from defender to midfield, Ansoni absolutely dominated and took over the game."
Deshommes is confident that Jimenez will succeed no matter where he plays on the pitch.
"Ansoni is such a versatile player," Deshommes said. "His freshman year he was a striker, then I moved him to left back and then the last two years he was our goalie. He was still one of our best offensive players, but he sacrificed his offense for the team. Now he is getting rewarded by moving back to offense in college."
Even though it was not his natural position, Jimenez excelled in goal last season for the Trojans. He posted 12 shutouts, including six in a row midway through the season. As a result, his goals against average was among the best in the conference at 0.85 per game.
Jimenez knows, however, that the transition back to an attacking midfielder from a goalie will not be easy.
"It's going to be way different," he said. "I actually feel more pressure when I'm in the midfield because I have to create the plays. In goal, I just have to react to the plays other people make. The way you play is totally different."
While Pierce likes that creativity in the midfield, he says that Jimenez will need to develop into a more physical player.
"Ansoni is a technically sound player, but he needs to develop a little more grit," Pierce said. "Referees are going to be a lot more lenient on the Division I level (of the NCCAA) when it comes to fouls. Ansoni is very coachable. I think he can develop into that kind of player."