Ivan Ponce, four-year varsity soccer standout and single-season scoring record holder for Clinton High School, signed his name to play at the college level Monday afternoon. Surrounded by family and coaches at the high school, he made his commitment to William Peace University.
“I ended up choosing to go to William Peace because it was a small private school,” Ponce said, “Being in downtown Raleigh there’s more opportunities.”
Ponce achieved much during his time with the Dark Horses, from making All-Conference, All-County, All-County Player of Year and much more. Starting after his freshman year, he became a goal-scoring machine, so much so he clinched the school record for goals in his senior year. His goals per season went from three in his freshman year to 19, 15 and then 31 in his senior campaign, which broke the record.
“My time here has been great and breaking the record also feels great,” said Ponce. “I’ve learned a lot from the players and coaches around me in my four years here.”
He pointed to his sophomore season as the turning point.
”A lot of my friends were seniors and I took advantage of what I could learn from them and had a really successful year,” he noted.
Ponce’s family were not the only ones proud of him and what he’s done with soccer. Reaching the next level thanks to his effort and hard work, none knew more about his work ethic than his coach Brad Spell.
“I’m very proud of Ponce and all he’s accomplished since he’s been here. The thing I’ll tell you I’m most proud of is how he came into his senior season,” said Spell. “I’ve been at this now for 20 years and I’ve had many guys whose junior year was their best year. They think it’ll happen again next year just cause they’re older, but I can tell you it don’t work like that.”
“That wasn’t the case for Ponce, he constantly worked hard going into his senior year during the season and even in the offseason,” continued Spell. “More than that, he probably worked harder than any senior I’ve had before. After his junior year, when we lost 12 seniors, he really stepped it up and his leadership was great.”
Spell continued to speak praises about Ponce and his reliability as a player.
“We could all rely on Ponce his senior year, he always put the team on his shoulders when the time came for it and when we needed it he came through. His work ethic was always 100 percent and I’ll always be proud of him for that. The last thing I’ll point out about him is when he scored those 31 goals, we were number one in the state against strength of conference, so he didn’t earn the record against weak competition,” concluded Spell.
With any athlete going to play a sport in college, the academic side of being a student athlete is just as important as playing the sport. Luckily for Ponce, he has an idea of what he wants as a career outside of soccer, though he isn’t sure yet about what he plans to pursue in life.
“I plan on majoring in Business Administration in my four years at William Peace. Then I’ll try and find something related to the field when I graduate or try to own my own business,” concluded Ponce.
Reach Michael Hardison at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.