BY RAUL GARCIA
DONNA — Fresh off scoring her 100th career goal, Donna North’s Gabriela Aviles continued her hot streak Friday, netting seven goals more in a win over Edinburg Economedes.
“It’s a big deal here in the Rio Grande Valley. There have been very few soccer players that have reached that number,” Donna North head coach Tony Garcia said. “For Gabby to reach that now in her junior year only two games into district, that speaks volumes for the type of skills that she has.”
On the opening kickoff against Edinburg Economedes, Donna North quickly shot the ball down field to feed Aviles, who scored in transition to break open a scoreless tie during the 39th minute. Aviles went on to score six more goals to carry Donna North to a 9-1 victory at home.
Aviles has scored 29 goals this season as Donna North stands at 10-7-1 overall and 3-0 in District 31-6A competition.
“She’s fast, she’s very fast, and once she gets going she’s got wings,” Garcia said.
Coming into the season, Aviles didn’t know how far away she was from reaching the scoring milestone, other than she was close to that mark.
Against Edinburg North on Feb. 4, Aviles unknowingly hit the century mark with her game-winning goal.
“My teammate passed it to me, and the defender went the other way and I shot it and it went in,” Aviles said. “It was just amazing, and it was a good feeling.”
The record goal came on her 17th birthday, adding to the celebration.
“We were ecstatic,” Garcia said. “She didn’t even know how many goals she had until after the game when I told her, ‘Guess what? This is your 100th goal.’ It was a big win. We went to their place and beat last year’s District 31-6A champs.”
Her score released 72 minutes of pressure when Donna North gained the upper hand after Aviles got in front to the defense and scored off a pass from teammate Nancy Espino.
“I didn’t know what number I was at,” Aviles said. “I was a little off in the game against Edinburg North, but I told myself I just need one goal because it could win the game.”
With time winding down, she scored what turned out to be the game-clinching goal in a 1-0 win over Edinburg North. Aviles credits her teammates for setting up scoring opportunities, as well as her father, Alfonso, who began coaching her at an early age.
“They play a big role in me scoring because if it wasn’t for them getting me the ball, then I wouldn’t be able to put it away,” Aviles said. “And my dad started playing soccer with me outside our house, and at 8 years old he decided to put me on a soccer team.”
The first goals she recalls putting away came during a scrimmage. In that match, Aviles netted two goals —one to tie the score and the next to take the lead and control of the game. Although those scores didn’t count toward her official career marks, it proved to her coach that she could make a difference on the varsity team.
By her sophomore season, Aviles was named team captain.
Aviles’ most memorable game came when Donna North rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the first round of the 2019 playoffs to force penalty kicks. Donna North wound up losing 4-3 to a Harlingen South team that eventually reached the third round of the playoffs.
“Going into the second period we needed to turn it around,” Aviles said. “I scored the first two goals and that made us feel we had a chance.”
Espino, her teammate, scored the third goal of that contest.
Only one other Donna North soccer player has reached 100 goals. Elizabeth Reyes holds the Donna North school record for most career goals scored with 144 netted in four years. The two played together during Aviles’ freshman year. That’s when Reyes, a senior, helped Donna North reach the third round of the playoffs, where they eventually lost to Gregory Portland.
“We are extremely proud of Gabby’s accomplishment, and we are not going to take any of our games lightly,” Garcia said. “She is a team player and she is going to go all out for her team and we are all thankful for the player that she is. She is an amazing girl and we’re lucky she is just a junior.”
Aside from soccer, Aviles competes on the basketball team, track team and volleyball team. She’s also on the cheerleading squad, National Honor Society and student council.
“It takes a lot of practice, and also relying on your teammates that they are going to get you the ball and do their job so I can do mine,” Aviles said. “My goal is to get better every year.”