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Quick mind and quicker hands

Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 by San Diego Union Tribune

A quick mind and quicker hands Speedy reflexes make Almario a natural at goalkeeper
By Scott Akanewich,

SPECIAL TO THE UNION-TRIBUNE Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 12:04 a.m.
Peggy Peattie / UNION-TRIBUNE 
               Eastlake High School’s goalkeeper, senior Chelsea Almario, was the Mesa League Goalkeeper of the Year last season. CHULA VISTA — Chelsea Almario likes to use her hands.
               One problem — she’s a soccer player. As a standout goalkeeper for Eastlake High, though, she is lauded for doing what she enjoys most. Almario, a 5-foot-8 senior, said her genesis as a goalkeeper was one of chance. 
               “I started playing soccer when I was 9, and I remember it like it was yesterday,” Almario said. “I was playing forward when someone crossed a ball in front of the goal, and I instinctively knocked it down with my hands.” 
               Almario was named Mesa League Goalkeeper of the Year last season following a sparkling campaign in which she led the Titans on a nine-game league unbeaten streak that included four shutouts. Not bad for someone who had to be cajoled into taking up the game. 
               “My older brother was already playing when we were kids,” Almario said. “Then one day I was at one of his practices and my dad said he was going to sign me up, too.” That was just the beginning of Almario’s soccer education. “I’d come home and my parents would have soccer books on the kitchen table and be asking me what offsides was and things like that,” she said. “They made a pretty big deal out of it.” Call it Soccer 101, courtesy of Dennis and Teresa Almario, her parents and soccer professors. It seems to have taken quite well. 
                 Along with intellectual intuition for the game, Almario displays athletic acumen between the goal posts. “She’s a great athlete, which is very important for a goalkeeper,” Eastlake coach Scott Burress said. “Especially in the girls game in which the players are always taught to shoot high — she’s a cat.” Titans senior defender Kelsey Reyes said Almario is unlike most goalkeepers she’s seen. “Her reflexes are amazing and she has an extreme vertical leap,” Reyes said. Burress said Almario’s prowess allows Eastlake to take chances by bringing an extra defender into the attack. “I know when I move up, I can count on her,” Reyes said. “She’s saved me many times.” Teammates say Almario’s leadership is crucial during games, even though she might be far from the action at the opposite end of the field. “She has high energy and keeps everyone enthusiastic,” senior midfielder Alex Delaney said. “She’s a great teammate. If we’re down and frustrated, she’ll bring us back.”
                 Away from soccer, Almario’s ambitions include becoming a first-grade teacher. “I just love working with children, and that’s the grade I had the most fun in,” said Almario, who was nominated for homecoming queen at Eastlake and won the title of “class clown.” “It’s just fun being who I am. It makes life interesting.”

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