Rising senior and four-year varsity starter for Clinton High, Ivan Ponce will be a key player for the Dark Horses as his leadership will be vital to any state title run in his final season.
Ponce has been playing soccer every since he was 6 years old, taking part in rec soccer where he soon began to compete. He showed early signs indicating his potential in soccer, as children in his age group provided little competition for the young player.
“My coaches would say that the kids my age just weren’t providing me any competition at all,” said Ponce. “So by the time I was like 8 or 9, I was playing against people in higher age groups. Once I turned 10 years old, I was already playing club soccer.”
Fast forward a few years, Ponce is wearing the black and gold of the Dark Horses, where he has been a starter going on his fourth year as a striker for CHS. Now a rising senior, leader and key player for them, Ponce will have the freedom on the pitch to play the way he feels is best for the team, head coach Brad Spell said.
“He is definitely one of our leaders this year and our captain. He’s been starting for us for the past four years now,” said Spell. “It’s my plan to let the reins go on him this year and have him take over games whenever we need him to.”
Being a starter since he arrived at CHS, Ponce has put up impressive stats to say the least. Over the span of 52 games he managed to accumulate 58 points (goals are worth two points, assists are worth one), with 22 goals on 97 shots to go with 14 assists. They are numbers that have also garnered him his share of awards.
“I got All-Region and All-County this past season, I was the scoring leader with 14 I believe,” said Ponce. “If I remember correctly I’ve had the scoring streak every year.”
Ponce has had chances to lead the Horses in the summer, recently with the first-ever Sampson County Soccer Jamboree, where he thought his team played well. However, Ponce already understands the importance of his role and what is expected of him as the leader.
“We played well in the jamboree, even though in our first scrimmage we didn’t play our best — probably because we were a little nervous,” said Ponce. “Later into the day, once we finally settled down, we started moving the ball much better and I could tell we were getting a little hungry.”
“As the leader you always need to pick your team up not just in games, but in practice as well,” remarked Ponce. “The most important thing is to remember to do this when your team is down, even if you’re having a rough year — but I believe we’ll have plenty of success this season.”
With talent like his, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Ponce has had his share of recruiters looking at him. The CHS senior already has a good idea of what he wants to do in college.
“I’ve been looked at by different schools such as Cape Fear and William Peace among others, but I’d really love to go to Lander University in South Carolina,” said Ponce. “Whichever school I end up going to I plan on majoring in and doing something with business and law.”
Just as important to Ponce as soccer and education is his family as he attributes the support of his family as one the key sources of his success.
“Soccer and family are the most important things to me, because without the right family to support you soccer can be tough,” said Ponce, thankfully. “Of course education is equally important. You need to have a good education as it’ll be a huge help for when you’re trying to make it in life.”
Reach Sports Editor Michael Hardison at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.