Laurel Gonzalez: a tri-sport sensation

When you think of Laurel Gonzalez (12) – known as “LoGo” to her friends – the first thing that comes to mind might be the three varsity sports she plays: girls lacrosse, soccer and flag football. Or maybe it is her collection of athletic awards: All CIF San Diego Player of the Year in girls soccer, lacrosse and flag football. But for her teammates, Gonzalez’s defining characteristic is her inner cat.

“Sometimes I think she is a cat,” Abigail Lea (12), one of Gonzalez’s soccer co-captains, said. “You know how cats can jump off of anything and still be okay? I feel like she does that.”

Gonzalez is not just “okay” as she jumps from sport to sport each athletic season — she is triumphant. Gonzalez won the CIF Open Championship for lacrosse in 2023, helped lead the girls flag football team to the CIF San Diego Section Flag Football Championship and scored a goal in the Open CIF Soccer Championship game against Eastlake this winter season. Her ability to coordinate plays on the lacrosse field, score hat tricks on the soccer pitch and throw game-winning passes in football truly demonstrates her cat-like qualities.

“It’s the cat agility and reflexes [that help her excel],” varsity lacrosse and flag football player Camille Samarasinghe (12) said. “It’s got to be the cat inside her.”

According to Gonzalez, her penchant for athletics started young.

“Playing sports, throwing, catching a ball and running around were my favorite things to do,” Gonzalez, who will play Division 1 women’s lacrosse at Johns Hopkins University next fall, said. “I just felt more at home [on the field] than anywhere.”

At TPHS and on her club lacrosse team, Mad Dog West Elite, Gonzalez is known by her coaches and teammates as a standout athlete.

“In my 30 years of coaching, I can honestly say she is hands down the best all-around athlete I have ever coached,” Pam Kalinoski, girls varsity soccer assistant coach, said. “Her gifts are endless in every sport she participates in. She has a silent confidence about her that is fueled with humility.”

Part of Gonzalez’s gifts in sports is her natural athleticism, according to Lea.

“You can put her in any environment, sports-wise, and she’ll still succeed. It doesn’t really matter what she’s doing, she’s up for the challenge,” Lea said.

Paired with this talent, Gonzalez’s decision-making skills on the field are what give her an extra edge, according to Alina Hsu (12) who plays lacrosse and played flag football with Gonzalez.

“She has crazy game IQ, which is hard to come by these days, especially in lacrosse because it’s a very intricate game,” Hsu said. “Playing with her is honestly spectacular because you can just see how she works things out in her head.”

Gonzalez also excels in leadership on the pitch. Gonzalez was a captain on each of her three TPHS teams, and she leads her teammates with a “relentless work-rate, unselfish decision-making, a ‘team first’ mindset and a competitive heart,” according to Kalinoski.

To Talia Bertino (12), another co-captain on girls soccer, Gonzalez’s lead-by-example style is paired with an innate friendliness.

“She’s always having a good time with whoever she’s with, it doesn’t matter who,” Bertino said.

Samarasinghe agreed.

“When you get to know her as a person is when you actually get to differentiate between her athletic abilities and awards, and you realize that she’s a really cool person too,” Samarasinghe said. “She’s someone that everyone wants to be friends with because of her fun personality, and not just because she’s a stellar athlete. It’s because of who she is.”

For Gonzalez, playing on three teams allows her to foster such friendships.

“Playing with people on the field and being friends with them off the field, it adds to the family culture,” Gonzalez said.

Who Gonzalez is, through the words of her coaches and teammates, is clear: a talented athlete with cat-like reflexes and mental toughness, a dedicated leader and a good friend. But most importantly, as her teammates jokingly asserted, she smells good.

“She smells like peaches and pears, so that’s brought good energy to the team – it really brightens everyone’s day,” Bertino said.

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