CONCORD -- The high school career of Ygnacio Valley soccer player Jonathan Ayala has been anything but typical.
Most times, a boys soccer player will gradually improve, with better things expected as a junior or senior.
But for the kid they call Tata, greatness was expected from the time that Ayala set foot on the Ygnacio Valley campus. And he delivered.
Ayala scored a school-record 87 goals in his high school career and for scoring 33 this season -- also a school mark -- Ayala was chosen as the Bay Area News Group's East Bay boys soccer Player of the Year.
"He had a lot of potential and had great size when he first arrived," Ygnacio Valley coach Cesar Chavez said. "I knew he was good and with hard work he could be very special."
Hard work wasn't a problem for Ayala in his senior season, as he invested the time to help become the East Bay's best.
"I wish I could explain this feeling," Ayala said. "It always feels good when there is an honor behind it such as this.
"It's something I worked for and it wasn't easy. Preseason fitness, late-night runs and practices where I would stay and work on my shots. I've spent the last four years competing with the best in the East Bay, and it's an honor to say I attended Ygnacio Valley High and I'm proud to say I represented it."
Ayala didn't just score, but he had a great influence on the Warriors program that has become one of the North Coast Section's best in Division II.
In his four years, Ygnacio Valley went 67-16-11, including a 20-win season this season that saw the Warriors advance to the NCS semifinals for a second straight year.
Replacing someone of his caliber will not be easy.
"It will be very hard to replace him," Chavez said. "Not only was he a great soccer player, but was also a great young man. I have coached many great players over the years, but I can tell you that Tata has been the most special player I have ever coached.
"Very hard working and always trying to do what was best for the team. I will miss him a lot and wish him great success in his college career."
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