Big Lake Athlete of the Week: Josue Gonzalez

Clewiston Tigers sophomore soccer player Josue Gonzalez is this week’s Big Lake Athlete of the Week for his performance during the Tigers’ stretch of five undefeated games to start their 2018 season.

Last year as a freshman, Gonzalez set the varsity record in scoring at Clewiston with 41 goals for the season, and he hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down now in his second year. Through the first five games in 2018, Gonzalez has 14 goals, six of those coming from a MVP performance against Sebring that saw the Tigers win 7-0. Gonzalez scored those six goals in a span of about 10 minutes shortly before halftime. Throughout its first five games, Clewiston High School has beaten Bishop Verot 3-1, Sebring 7-0, Lake Placid 6-2, Gateway Charter 8-2 and Lake Placid again, this time 2-0. In the second game against Lake Placid, Gonzalez was responsible for both of the Tigers’ goals that gave Clewiston the victory.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Clewiston sophomore Josue “Nune” Gonzalez holds the all-time record in goals scored in Tigers history with 41 in his freshman year.

Tigers soccer coach Skip Crawford calls Gonzalez a rarity and says his confidence in his own shots gives him the ability to put up big numbers in games.

“He’s willing to shoot,” explained Crawford. “He’s willing to go at the goal pretty much anytime he gets close. He just thinks that way. He’ll take a lot of shots that other kids wouldn’t take, shots that’ll go through a crowd in front of the goal and get through. He’s strong, a hard worker and he’s ready to shoot from either foot. That’s what makes him different than a lot of kids in high school.”

Crawford says that Gonzalez can be a lot for teams to handle, especially when he gets on a tear like in the game against Sebring.

“When he gets in the zone, he’s hard to deal with,” continued Crawford. “Teams just have trouble with him. He’s deceptively fast, really quick bursts of speed. He gets past people all the time. And usually right when he gets past someone, our kids on the bench will say, ‘Here comes a goal!’”

Gonzalez was a big part of Clewiston’s 14-5-1 season during his freshman year in 2017 that saw the Tigers make it to the regional semifinals. One of the few teams that gave the Tigers trouble in that 2017 season were the LaBelle Cowboys. Clewiston fell to LaBelle three times last year, and Crawford called every one of those games against the Cowboys a battle. The two teams will battle again on Jan. 22 in the second-to-last game of the regular season in Clewiston. After the regular season ends, the Tigers are planning to make another playoff run.

“We’re taking one game at a time, and we are all working toward one goal,” Crawford said of the Tigers’ aim for the season. “Everyone has bought into it and everyone understands that we practice like champions and we play like champions. Our goal is to be the champions this year. We want to be the district champs, we want to be the regional champs and we want to play in the state championship. And if we’re playing in the state championship, we’re going to win it.” The Tigers will be playing two home games in the coming week against Gateway Charter on Dec. 6 and Island Coast on Dec. 12.

If you have someone you’d like to nominate for Big Lake Athlete of the Week, email Lake Okeechobee News sports reporter Richard Marion at rmarion@newszap.com.

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