Jonathan Martinez is certain of his abilities.
Scoring 11 goals in a three-day span can do that for an athlete’s confidence.
The Canyon Springs forward accomplished the feat to open the soccer season, which included a four-goal performance Aug. 30 against Basic. Martinez’s torrid pace was highlighted by a three-minute stretch to start the match during which he found the back of the net three times.
“I scored once, and then I just wanted to keep scoring more,” the sophomore said of the Pioneers’ 11-0 rout of the Wolves. “I took advantage of their weaknesses. I pressured them and watched them get frustrated.”
With a strong balance of speed and on-the-ball presence, Martinez has improved greatly in the past year, Pioneers coach Dan Myers said.
“A lot of kids are fast,” said Myers, who is in his third season coaching Canyon Springs (2-1-1). “But he’s as fast with the ball in his possession as he is without it. And that is his biggest asset.”
Myers also credits Martinez’s success to his involvement in club soccer and dedication to offseason training.
“Last year, there were a lot of times when you could knock him off the ball if you gave him a good solid shoulder charge,” Myers said. “This year, not so much. He’s getting more shots on goal because he’s not having to fight through so much contact.”
Martinez said he has changed in other facets of the game, too. He has taken on a leadership role that he said was missing last season for a Pioneers club that was 1-16 (1-13 Northeast) and returned only four starters this season.
“As a leader, I want to motivate people and help them never give up,” he said. “I want to make (my teammates) better people. I want them to look up to me.”
Quick to admit that his youth leaves him in a precarious position as a leader, Martinez said he had to will his way into the role.
“I was nervous at first, but my success helped,” he said. “It’s surprising because of my age and because my teammates have more experience than me.”
Canyon Springs captains Mickey Rodriguez and Chris Garcia agree that Martinez has blossomed into a major offensive threat and a leader upon whom veteran players can rely.
“He’s a natural goal scorer,” said Garcia, a senior. “He brings the team motivation every game.”
Myers said he has witnessed a developmental pattern, mentally and physically, within Martinez that has given Canyon Springs an optimistic outlook.
“He is maturing to the point where he realizes ‘I’m going to be a leader on this team, and I’ve got to do it with my foot,’ ” Myers said. “At the same time, it shows the maturity of the team to put their trust in him.”
The early-season success hasn’t fazed Martinez, though. He said Myers has made it a priority to shield him from any hype.
“He tells me, ‘You’re not the greatest,’ ” Martinez said. “He keeps me levelheaded.”
Although thrilled with the early results, Myers knows that four-goal games will be few and far between.
“I would love to see that every day,” he said with a smirk. “But I can see him putting in one or two (goals) a game on a consistent basis.”