When it comes to girls soccer, La Costa Canyon has a legacy of success that most schools would envy. Since opening in 1996, Maverick teams have captured nine CIF Championships, the most recent being Open Division crowns in 2014 and 2015. They were semi-finalists in 2016 but since that time, the program has failed to finish above .500 for three consecutive years.
Those days may be a thing of the past as the 2019-20 LCC squad under the direction of first-year Head Coach Ryan Morissey has burst back into the section’s upper echelon. Now the ninth-ranked team in San Diego and sporting an 8-4-5 record that includes a stunning 6-1 triumph over No. 2-ranked Carlsbad, the defending CIF Open champ, in mid-January, the Mavericks have shown they could be a team to reckon with come post-season.
No player has been more central to the La Costa Canyon resurgence than forward Lizzy Teran. The speedy, 5-foot 7-inch senior leads her squad with 14 goals and is second behind fellow senior Jayden Scalise with five assists. Although the volume is impressive, the style and timing seem to have just as much impact on opponents.
Teran has the ability to strike seemingly from anytime at any range, whether it’s off one of her own runs up the wing or in close off a set piece. Her ability to unleash a dangerous shot with relatively minimum separation and do so quickly and unexpectedly creates uncertainty, if not fear in defenders.
In the aforementioned victory over Carlsbad, LCC held a tenuous, 1-0, advantage with just under three minutes remaining in the first half. The Lancers had seemingly steadied themselves after surrendering an early goal against the then-unranked Mavericks. But in the blink of an eye, off a throw-in, senior running mate Lorena Villa slipped the ball to a well-marked Teran at the top corner of the box. She moved subtly away from the goal and defender before turning her body back towards center and hooking a picture perfect strike into the far side of the net. Moments later the Mavs hit the still shocked Lancers with another goal to give themselves a startling three-goal edge at halftime. Teran wound up with a hat trick before the night was over.
For Morissey, it’s the kind of feat that’s become somewhat routine. “Lizzy does so many things well,” says Morissey. “Her speed obviously makes her dangerous, especially when she’s going at people 1v1 out wide.
“She’s got a great stop-start that allows her to get defenders committed before she uses her quickness to get past them. She gets her head up, shoots early and always seems to find a path to the goal.
“Lizzy’s also got a tendency to be in the right place at the right time and by doing that makes a lot of those good things happen—plus, she finishes it off when it counts, she’s lethal like that.”
Teran, an only child whose Nicaraguan-born parents immigrated to the U.S. as youngsters, was a latecomer to the sport. Still on an upward trajectory, Teran recorded four goals as an LCC freshman and five as a junior. She sat out the prep sophomore season playing on her club’s academy team. The Cardiff resident now plays for the powerful, Orange County-based SoCal Blues club team.
Intelligent, personable, humble while at the same time possessive of a feisty, assertive streak, Teran holds down a cumulative GPA of 4.1 at LCC, has accepted a scholarship offer from UC San Diego and will start there this fall, the university’s first year at NCAA Division I.
With the final week of the 2019-20 regular season and subsequent CIF Playoffs fast-approaching, Teran took the time to share thoughts on her game, her team and next year’s step up to the college level.
Q—Unlike most kids, you didn’t begin playing soccer until you were 11. Why the late start, what do you remember about the early days and what’s made it your sport of choice?
TERAN—I started playing basketball when I was around seven and ran track from elementary school through eighth grade. I had no intention of playing soccer but a friend of my mother’s, whose daughter was on my basketball team, suggested it and said I should do it for fun.
In my first soccer game, I scored in the first 30 seconds. I just remember that when the ref blew the whistle, I ran with the ball as fast as I could to the other side of the field and scored. My excitement about playing went way up.
What has kept me excited is the competition, the challenge of improving your skills at every practice and in every game in a team environment. The sport keeps helping me grow as an individual—it has taught me how to deal with disappointment and failure and how to overcome challenges.
One of the most important lessons soccer has taught me is perseverance. No matter how difficult or impossible a situation seems, it can be overcome with hard work and dedication. I’ve also learned that it doesn’t matter if you lose, but how you react to loss and how you come back and keep fighting because eventually that is what life is all about.
Q—You missed your sophomore high school season, what brought you back and what do you like about high school soccer?
TERAN—High school is a great opportunity to play with my friends. You play club almost year-round and high school is definitely a change, a different environment. It’s a lot of fun, particularly in terms of the social aspects. Club is also fun and is significant as far as individual improvement, but it’s sad that the U.S. Development Academy doesn’t allow girls to play high school soccer when they are part of the academy program. When I didn’t play my sophomore year, I really missed it.
There is nothing better than the pride you have playing for your school. I’ve made so many relationships playing with the LCC team and it’s nice to be able to sharpen your skills playing with and against different players than your club teammates. I look at being able to play high school soccer as a privilege.
Q—Why is this year’s La Costa Canyon team having more success than those of the last several seasons?
TERAN—I think last year we were a little more disconnected. This year, we’ve got great chemistry—each player knows how the others play. We’re a lot more confident. I felt that last year we lost our courage and our confidence after we lost a few games.
This year, we’ve got that back. We’ve also got some great freshmen on the team who are not only good players but bring a lot of energy to the field. Everyone is equal and we play for each other. The atmosphere is a lot more positive and calm which is one of the reasons we’ve been winning.
Q—How did things change as far as the team’s approach and confidence after the win over Carlsbad?
TERAN—It showed us that we can be competitive on any day if we execute our game plan—we just have to go out there and get it. We were happy about the win but it was temporary because we knew it was just one game and there would be plenty of challenges the rest of the season. We need to make sure we are ready no matter who the opponent is.
Q—It’s often said that goal scorers tend to be very unique. Do you feel there is a certain mentality that goes with being a good goal scorer?
TERAN—For me it’s about never giving up—not only in soccer but in life. There are times when I can’t score and when that happens, I try to find different things I can do either to put myself in scoring position or help the team in some other way.
I always try to keep a positive attitude. We’ve got a really strong team. When I score a goal, I know many others have usually contributed to the process and those players are capable of scoring goals when I’m not.
Q—What do you do in practice to work on your game, particularly your offensive skill set?
TERAN—On the practice field or in games, hard work has always been an important factor to me—I think I get that from my parents. What you do in practice and away from formal training sessions applies to how you perform on the game field. I’m always trying to make myself better.
Speed is my biggest weapon and I think I can use it to frustrate opponents. But I try not to do things over and over again and become predictable. I work a lot on using a change of speed or change of pace to confuse defenders.
Outside of regular practice, I work with a personal coach and on my own. I do things like dribbling at people or cones, taking different types of shots, working to place shots so it’s second nature in a game. I love taking shots and I love bending the ball. I practice those a lot and seeing it pay off like that first goal against Carlsbad gets me hyped.
Q—Do you follow professional soccer?
TERAN—My mom and dad are big soccer fans and we watch a lot of Spanish League games. Watching that level of competition can help me get better. Barcelona is my favorite team. I love the way they play. They’re very tactical, possession-based and there’s never any panic on the ball. They’re always thinking ahead and every pass has a purpose. I try to remember those things I see when I play.
I used to like watching Sydney Leroux when she played for the U.S. Women’s National Team and Christen Press currently. Overall, I like following anybody with speed, explosiveness and hustle that can really change a game in an instant whether they’re professionals or rec players.
Q—As a senior and one of LCC captains, how would you describe your leadership role on the team?
TERAN—Obviously, I’m not one of the most vocal players on the team, but I believe I demonstrate leadership in the way I play. Gracie (Welke) and Lorena are both great captains. Gracie is one of the more vocal players on the roster while Lorena and I rely more on the effort we put out and the way we play. At halftime, I’m always encouraging teammates, making sure they never quit.
Q—Your coach has called you and Lorena Villa “a great 1-2 punch” up front. She was recently injured and will miss the remainder of the season. How do the two of you work together and what kind of impact will losing her have?
TERAN—Lorena and I are a good combination and she’s definitely one of my favorite people to play with. Off the field, she’s my best friend and that helps us on the field too. We kind of “get” each other and are almost able to connect intuitively.
I hate to see her, or any of my teammates, get hurt. I’ve been knocked out by injuries many times but it’s part of the game and when it happens, you have to just fight back, rehab and get back on the field again soon. Losing Lorena will clearly have an impact as we transition into our last few games and post-season but we’re going to try to make up for that as a team and play for her the rest of the way. I hope she has a quick recovery and comes back playing stronger than ever.
Q—What kind of process was there when you were considering colleges and how did you choose UC San Diego?
TERAN—My initial thinking was to attend school on the East Coast to experience the change of weather and maybe a different environment than California. But since I decided to play soccer in college, my plan has been to find a school with great academics and a solid soccer program where I would have the opportunity to contribute.
Last summer I attended a UCSD ID camp, just to see more of the campus and get familiar with the soccer program. I got more interested when I found out UCSD would be making the transition to Division I in 2020. Coach (Kristin) Jones must have liked something she saw in me because she offered me a scholarship.
I had other offers but maybe UCSD was meant to be. My mom is a UCSD grad and I have been to the campus many times since I was younger and gone to watch the women’s soccer team play several times as well as track & field events through the years. I plan to study human biology in hopes of getting into a medical field in the future.
Q—You’ve got a 4.1 cumulative GPA at La Costa Canyon. What’s been the favorite class you’ve taken?
TERAN—I would probably have to say my Spanish class with Mr. (James) Teague. I’ve taken Spanish all four years and it has benefited me so much in my perspectives of the world and how to adapt to new environments.
Mr. Teague has been one of the most influential teachers that I’ve had. He’s not only improved my skills in the Spanish language but taught me important lessons that I will be able to use later in life.
Q—What kinds of things do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
TERAN—I love going to the beach and California probably has the best beaches anywhere. Swami’s is one place a really like. I’m usually up for any adventure or just chilling and like spending time with family and friends.
I also enjoy traveling. The favorite place I’ve been with my family was the Dominican Republic. It has very beautiful scenery and the change from here was breathtaking. At the same time, I was also exposed to a different environment including some places where people were a lot less privileged than we are. It was a good education and I feel that it’s a blessing to have so many of the opportunities that I have.
In the future, I would love to go to Europe or anywhere tropical, like the Bahamas.