North Texas Daily

UNT forward overcomes adversity, excels as a freshman

UNT forward overcomes adversity, excels as a freshman

October 09
23:46 2012

Ryne Gannoe/ Senior Staff Writer

Karla Pineda faced a lot of challenges when she moved from Mexico to Houston with her family. She had to adjust to new surroundings, meet new people and learn a whole new language.

“I remember in fourth grade I used to cry all the time because I didn’t know what the teachers were saying,” said Pineda, the Mean Green women’s soccer team starting midfielder. “That was the hardest part.”

After adjusting to her new life, Pineda began playing club and high school soccer. Eventually, she was recruited to play for the Mean Green.

As a freshman, she leads the team with six assists and has the second most goals with six this season.

Soccer, however, was something that remained a constant part of her life.

“When I was little, my brother got me into it [soccer],” Pineda said. “My whole family likes it. [The Mexican national team], that’s my main team, and there’s a team there [in Mexico], they are called Chivas. That’s my team.”

The 18-year-old has played soccer consistently since she was 4 years old, with only one exception. When she was five, she lost the big toe on her right foot in an accident.

“It happened when I was little, so I don’t really remember,” Pineda said. “That’s when I kind of stopped playing. It took me a year to recover.”

Pineda said since it happened when she was so young, it never affected how she played soccer. She kicks the ball effectively with both feet.

UNT head coach John Hedlund said Pineda has a unique skill set that includes her field vision, dribbling ability and the most powerful shot he’s seen on a UNT team in recent years.

“She’s a talented player,” Hedlund said. “Really the whole year she’s been an important part of our offense. She’s got the complete game.”

Hedlund said watching Pineda play reminds him of UNT Hall of Fame forward Marilyn Marin, who currently holds 10 UNT records, including career goals and career assists.

Pineda has already received conference honors in her short time with the Mean Green.

On Tuesday, she was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week after her two unassisted goals this weekend, including the game-winning goal against Florida Atlantic.

“As teams get to know her, they are going to mark her tighter and get physical on her,” Hedlund said.

Her on-field dominance doesn’t come with an off-the-field ego. Freshman forward Amber Haggerty, Pineda’s teammate and roommate, said Pineda is quiet and shy.

“She’s really sweet,” Haggerty said. “She puts other people before herself.”

Pineda said she’s always looking for ways to get better.

“When I’m trying to sleep, I think of plays I could do,” Pineda said. “In the game, it just kind of comes to me.”

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