RGV FUTBOL SOCCER NEWS | NOTICIAS DEL FÚTBOL VALLE DE TEXAS: Valley midfielder Mikey Lopez at the top of his game
Valley midfielder Mikey Lopez at the top of his game

López wins NCAA title and ACC Freshman of Year, called up to USMNT

Mission native and University of North Carolina midfielder Mikey López helped win the NCAA National Championship in 2011. In photo, López poses with his hardware in Mission, Texas. Photo by RGV Fútbol.com.

By RGV Fútbol/Staff

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MISSION, 19 March. - Sacrifice, support, and determination leads to success. No three words or actions are truer than those, just ask University of North Carolina ACC Freshman of the Year Mikey López.

López, a Mission native, survived four years of boarding school at St. Stephen’s Academy in Austin away from his family and friends. Last fall, the Valley midfielder won a starting spot at UNC, one of collegiate soccer’s elite programs, and helped the Tarheels defeat Charlotte to win the NCAA Division I national championship, including the ACC regular season and ACC tournament titles.

"It’s been an amazing year, we won everything and I had a lot of achievements also," said López, who is an exercise and sports science major. "It was difficult at first to break into the first team and get my starting spot as a center midfielder. I started out as a right back, and then they shifted me back into the center and I won my spot there. It was a good journey. It was tough, but it was good to get a lot of playing time and win ACC Freshman of the Year."

The national title was the second in UNC (21-2-3) history, and López was the sixth player in Tarheel history to win the ACC Freshman of the Year award.

López started 21 of 25 games for UNC, scored three goals and dished out four assists in his first year with the Tarheels, who won the treble for the first time in history and are only the second team in the ACC to accomplish the feat.

He joins Martín Ontiveros, another Valley native, with a NCAA championship ring. Last year, Ontiveros played 12 games as a freshman to help the University of Akron win an unprecedented national title.

"It definitely starts with my teammates. Without them I couldn’t have done anything, the coaches too, because they gave me the time to play," López said. "It all comes down to my family, God, and to my friends. It all has to do with support, sacrifice, and determination to get where I’m at now. I know there are a lot of kids with a lot of talent here in the Valley, but they don’t have the same amount of support I had, and continue to have."

The success achieved by López was followed by a call up from the U.S. men’s U-20 national team in February at Clermont, Fla., where he concluded a training camp on March 1 and is a candidate to participate in the next summer’s U-20 World Cup.

López isn’t the only player who has represented the Valley at the national team level, but he is one of the few that has been called up frequently past the U-18 category.

"The talent here (Valley) is amazing, we can play anywhere," López said. "But I think it’s a discipline thing and wanting to be there, determination, all the self-sacrifice. I know there’s a lot of people that want to go there, but they don’t do all the extra work that they need to get there. If everyone would sacrifice a little more or be a lot more determined, they can get anywhere they want.

"And I know, I’m a perfect example of that," López concluded. "I’m one of those kids that didn’t have the most talent on my team, but my hard work and determination, and all the sacrifices I’ve made, that’s helped me get to where I am right now. I’m sure a lot of kids here can do it, but they have to start with themselves first, and the parents have to help them also."

RGV Fútbol