Soccer star scores goals on and off the field


GOAL-ORIENTED STUDENT-ATHLETE— Marco Carrillo-Leon led the Jaguars to their second straight PCAC title. He is also a champion in the classroom. Photo by John Domogma

Marco Carrillo-Leon can score goals like few others, but he can also set goals. Next up, a state championship for his Southwestern College soccer team. Carrillo-Leon is an enigmatic young man of many dimensions. Aggressive on the pitch, he is gentle off. One of the state’s best soccer players, he has no interest in a professional career. He is a vocal and passionate team captain who is quiet and reserved when the game is over. His 21 goals are third in the state, but he is proudest of his grade point average. He loves to slug it out with tough competition, but plans to study nursing.

Carrillo-Leon’s life started in Tijuana, but when he was five his family moved to Imperial Beach.

His best friend in kindergarten convinced him to play soccer. A natural, he was soon a pint-sized goal-scoring machine for elite soccer clubs.

Carrillo-Leon starred at Mar Vista High School where he was captain of the varsity for two years and Most Valuable Player during the 2009-10 season when his team won the South Bay League title.

Carrillo-Leon said he is a low-keyed and patient man, but not when it comes to soccer.

“I like getting mad,” he said. “I like when they provoke me, it helps me become a better player.”

Co-captain Tony Alcaraz has known Carrillo-Leon for two years and said he is a fan.

“We both have confined in each other and know our capabilities and potential as soccer players,” he said. “We both do a good job leading the team. Carrillo always comes through in tough situations and he never disappoints.”

Former high school rival Josh Estrada said Carrillo convinced him to play for the Jaguars because there was going to be a good squad this season.

“I know his style of play better because I had to study him as an opponent,” said Estrada.

“This built great team chemistry, which led to winning. Carrillo has always been a game-changer. He creates a lot of opportunities for the team and has a way of putting the ball in the net most of the time.”

When Carrillo-Leon transfers in a year and a half he said his goal will not be soccer, but nursing.

“I don’t want to play professional soccer and then retire,” he said. “It’s a waste of time.”

Armed with his 3.0+ GPA and soccer credentials, Carrillo-Leon said he wants to transfer to a university in either the San Diego or Los Angeles areas.

“My family and education come first,” he said. “I would rather stay homebound and become a nurse than tour around with a soccer team. I’ve traveled because of soccer and it’s become a part of me. But I would choose school.”

For now, though, his focus is leading his undefeated team to victory. Playoffs and championship tournaments bring out his best, Carrillo-Leon said.

“I like to compete versus the best,” he said. “That’s how you know where you stand.”

Led by Carrillo-Leon and Alcaraz, the Jaguars have won back-to-back PCAC championships, something no other SWC soccer team has ever accomplished.

Carrillo-Leon, the prototype of a student-athlete, said he is in athlete mode right now. Can SWC win its first-ever state title? Carrillo-Leon did not flinch.

“I like our team, I like our chances.”


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