Her father was an Olympic boxer for Puerto Rico, and her mother was a heptathlete for the Canadian national team.
Soccer is Liz Amanda Gonzalez’s sport, and the 16-year-old goalie already has two state titles to her credit with two years left to add to her medal count.
Gonzalez seems to have the perfect genes for a goalie.
“I got the speed of a track star from my mom and the reflexes of a boxer from my dad,” Gonzalez said.
Besides what nature gave her, Gonzalez is also doing the best to nurture her talents, working with Fort Lauderdale Strikers goalie coach Ricardo Lopez and FIU goalie coach Phil Lamarre.
“Liz is very quick and explosive,” Lamarre said, “and you can see that when she dives for a ball. She has good range.”
Lamarre, who also serves as an assistant coach for Douglas, worked with Tori Danchak last season, helping her earn first-team All-Broward honors.
Danchak graduated and is now playing for Darton College, but Douglas fans need not worry. The team is off to an 11-0 start, with eight shutouts by Gonzalez.
“They are completely different,” Lamarre said when asked to compare Danchak and Gonzalez. “Tori was not the most athletic player, but she was very good with her feet on pass-backs and punts.
“Liz is very athletic but struggles with her feet. But I wouldn’t say we’ve declined at all at the position.”
Douglas head coach Stu Katz said it’s tough to replace a player as good as Danchak but added that Gonzalez is a “commanding presence” as the last line of defense.
It helps, Katz said, that she has an assistant coach such as Lamarre who specializes at the position. Lamarre was a standout goalie at Douglas before playing at Florida Atlantic and FIU.
Goalies on powerhouse teams such as Douglas often get little work in numerous games because the competition is lacking. But in the big regular-season and/or playoff games, an experienced and talented goalie is invaluable.
Gonzalez, a junior, won her state titles as the starter for Delray American Heritage, but she transferred to Douglas this year because her old school rarely got a close game. Even last season’s 2A state final was a 5-0 blowout for Heritage.
Douglas has become an attractive landing spot for talented goalies such as Gonzalez. Not only is Lamarre there as a tutor, but the school also produced Kelsey Wys, who led Florida State to the 2012 NCAA semifinals and was named third-team All-American.
Gonzalez, a native of Montreal who also lived in Puerto Rico before moving to Florida, appears to be the next star goalie in the Douglas chain.
She admits to feeling the stress of being the new player on the hot seat, but she said her teammates have made her comfortable.
“I’m in love with my new team,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve never been with a group of girls so committed to each other.
“I felt pressure when I first got here. But pressure drives me. It motivates me.”
The Sagemont boys’ basketball remains unbeaten after a 50-38 victory over Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer in the quarterfinal of the A-Rod Basketball Classic Thursday night at Columbus.
The score was not indicative of the Lions’ dominance as Sagemont led by as many as 27 in the third quarter before Dwyer made a run against Lion backups late.
Egor Koulechov, the 6-5 senior guard who has already signed with Arizona State, led Sagemont (5-0) with 21 points and six rebounds.