ZUBER SOLID AS A ROCK EAGLE ROCK SENIOR TENDS THE NET, SCORES AND HELPS COACH.
Lindsey Zuber isn't the first girl in her family to play soccer at Eagle Rock High. She's just the best.
She isn't the only child of Rick and Christine Zuber to play football. She's the most fearless.
And she isn't the only family member who coaches. But her impact might be the most profound.
Zuber, 17, boasts an athletic resume that is as impressive as any Eagle Rock senior, having competed in baseball, football, soccer, softball and volleyball.
But her greatest accomplishment might be the transformation of the Eagles' girls' soccer team, elevating it from a struggling program to a Northern League title contender.
And while Zuber does lead Eagle Rock in goals, assists, saves and shutouts, the Eagles' metamorphosis has more to do with her ability to teach than her soccer skills.
``The best part about her is she is a great leader and team player,'' said former Taft of Woodland Hills coach Greg Venger, who marveled at Zuber's goalkeeping ability in a 5-1 Toreadors' victory last season. ``Nowadays, you see the really great players and there is a level of arrogance about them. Her positive attitude on the field is what makes her stand out.''
Zuber has carried the Eagles in their attempt to earn a third straight top-16 playoff seed with victories over Cleveland of Reseda, North Hollywood and Locke of Watts.
``She has made Eagle Rock a legitimate threat,'' Sylmar coach Jose Navarro said. ``She has great vision and skill. She can tell her teammates where she wants them to be as she's running down the field with the ball. It's pretty impressive to watch.''
Eagle Rock (10-3-1, 4-1-1) is in second place in league entering Monday's showdown with Marshall of Los Feliz (10-7-2, 6-0).
But the mood wasn't always as upbeat, especially when Zuber played as a freshman.
``Everyone was intimidated and they all had to pick up their game a lot,'' said Zuber, whose sister, Lauren, a 2003 graduate, also played soccer for the Eagles.
``I didn't want to be on a flop team. So, I taught them how to shoot, how to trap the ball and how to pass, and they loved it.''
Zuber helped Eagle Rock reach the playoffs her first two years, but after a sophomore season that ended when the Eagles lost 3-2 in the first round to Kennedy of Granada Hills, she was forced to make some important decisions.
After two years as a receiver and placekicker on the junior varsity football team, Zuber decided to lighten her schedule by giving up the sport.
``I needed a break. My grades were going down and I needed a scholarship for soccer,'' said Zuber, whose brother Paul was a former varsity kicker for the Eagles.
``I was in the best shape of my life, but with zero period football, then school, soccer practice, football practice and club soccer practice, it was just too much.''
Zuber's emphasis on high school soccer resulted in the Eagles capturing a league title last year and winning the first playoff game in the program's history, a 2-0 victory over Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies of Reseda.
``They never had anybody push them before,'' said Zuber, who plays club soccer for the Claremont Stars under-17 premier team. ``I know I've gotten through to a lot of them.''
One of the reasons for Zuber's success has been the presence of her father as the Eagles' coach. Rick Zuber is known more for coaching baseball at Eagle Rock, but his ability to handle the little details has enabled Lindsey to thrive on the field.
``I'm a part-time player and part-time coach,'' said Lindsey, who has nine goals, four assists, 34 saves and eight shutouts. ``My dad's a baseball player and a coach, but he's watched me play soccer year-round since I was 11 and he's been around it since I was 5. Everybody always comes to me for help, so I'd give them drills to do and plan out practices in class.''
Zuber has secured a scholarship to play forward at Division II Cal Poly Pomona, but despite having no formal training, she is also Eagle Rock's best goalkeeper.
``It hurts her because she doesn't score as many goals, but a lot of times having her in goal is the best place,'' Rick Zuber said. ``If I put her at forward, she might score. But how much will they score against us if she's not in goal?''
Lindsey regularly pulls double-duty, starting in goal Wednesday in a 6-0 victory over Wilson of El Sereno and playing the final 15 minutes in net Monday in a 1-0 triumph over Lincoln of Lincoln Heights.
And she's doing it all with a broken left ring finger and without using gloves.
Zuber's finest moment in her high school career came in last season's playoffs, when she played the entire game in goal in a 5-1 loss to El Camino Real. Despite being slowed by a 103-degree fever and a sore throat, Zuber saved 25 shots.
``Nobody knew I was sick, but I wasn't coming out for anything,'' Zuber said. ``I was just having so much fun. I can't believe I saved those goals.''
Zuber's goalkeeping prowess was on display again Dec. 16, when she stopped three penalty kicks in a 4-1shootout win over Locke as Eagle Rock reached the final of the Sylmar tournament.
``When I need to do something, I do it,'' Zuber said. ``In my mind, if they're coming at me, they're not going to score.''
Zuber's skills on the field and in goal will be tested many more times before her career is over, but just like taking on the responsibility of coaching a group of her peers, she welcomes the challenge.
``I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen,'' she said. ``I'm just trying to make our program as good as it can be. I want them to love the game as much as I do.''
Lindsey Zuber tends the net for the Eagle Rock High girls' soccer team. She also has nine goals.
John McCoy/Staff Photographer
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jan 25, 2007|
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