Danyelle Allen, an 18-year-old undecided major, plays as a forward for the Saddleback women’s soccer team. (courtesy of Danyelle Allen)
Cleats hit the freshly cut grass with each stride, as the ball was weaved in and out between her feet. The goal was getting closer and closer until the sound of her shoe hitting the ball was heard across the field, sending it flying through the air and into the goal. The cheer of the crowd symbolized victory.
Forward Danyelle Allen, an 18-year-old undecided major, broke the school’s record for the amount of goals scored in a single game, broke the single-season scoring record and is No. 1 in the state for the California Community College Athletics Association. She achieved all of this in her first semester at Saddleback College and continues to succeed.
“It’s just making sure that I’m in the zone for the game, just concentrating and thinking about the game and knowing that I need to help my team out,” Allen said.
Allen first became interested in soccer at a young age through her father, who always loved the sport and used to play. After high school, she decided to move to southern California with her sister and was impressed by Saddleback’s tutoring programs and the women’s soccer team.
“I was kind of scared at first,” Allen said. “But the first day was a lot of fun in summer and it was easygoing. Right away it was a good experience.”
Originally Allen played defense, but her former club coach Ed San Juan is the one who saw the potential in her to become a forward, changing her whole perspective on the game.
“She first came to me as a defender and I saw a tremendous upside two player, fastest kid I’ve ever seen,” San Juan said. “She pushed her way to the top and became my starting outside right. She was steady, dependable and never broke down. It’s been fabulous to watch her do this and I’m so proud of her.”
Like her club coach, she’s become close with her new teammates and Coach BJ McNicol. Allen practices with them Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and considers them to be like family.
“The girls are so nice,” Allen said. “I love the team and the coaches also. We’re very encouraging before games and during practice. We bonded really quickly, and that’s pretty impressive for a team to clique so fast, that’s why we’re doing so well.”
Jenny Kraska, a 19-year-old psychology major also plays forward on the Saddleback team and said they’re lucky to have Allen.
“Danyelle and I play the same position on the field, so I have the privilege to combine and play off of her every single day,” Kraska said. “From my 12 years of playing competitive soccer, I haven’t come across a teammate as talented as her. Everything she does on the field seems so effortless; she’s a natural. That’s what makes her the best in the state.”
“I try not to think of the game as much, because if I think about it too much, then it gets in my head and I don’t perform as well,” Allen said.
To get pumped up before a game, Allen makes sure to eat healthy and stay hydrated, but she said she watches Alex Morgan, a forward for the U.S. Women’s National Team, a gold medalist and a model, for inspiration.
“It’s the way we play,” Allen said. “Usually she scores on breakaways, and that’s sort of how I score sometimes too. Our speed is somewhat the same, the way that we run and our skills.”
She said her favorite part of the game is being able to rush past a defender, and having that kind of speed is a lot of fun.
“If the ball is ahead of another girl and I see it, and I start sprinting and I know I’m going to defeat her, that’s just such a great feeling,” Allen said.
Although Allen doesn’t know what her plans are going to be after Saddleback, she knows that soccer will be a part of her future in some way.
“It’s always been a dream to play professionally if I could, so if I were ever to get that chance I would take it,” Allen said.