His shots went high and wide.
Junior Abraham Morales, who showed plenty of speed and skill, couldn’t put the ball into the net to save his life.
Then in the second half of the season, things suddenly came into focus for old blurry-shooter. He nailed a shot against Westmark from the left flank.
And on Tuesday, in the highest tension game of the 2017 season, when his team needed him most, Abraham proved in top form. He sunk two torpedoes to unnerve the reigning league champs, Newbury Park, in a game that ultimately Lighthouse Christian Academy lost 3-5.
“As a little kid I would just pass the ball around with my family members. I was a pretty short kid. I used to tell them, ‘One day I’ll make it big in soccer,’” Abraham said.
He’s big in our eyes, now one of the top scorers for the season and officially listed in the Lighthouse ledger of soccer history.
Because of soccer, Abraham transferred to Lighthouse. His middle school teammates jeered and bullied him for his flubs on the soccer field, a habitual provocation that drove him to yelling and even fist fights. The nastiness continued into his freshman year of high school in the public school system in South Central Los Angeles, where he lives.
“I told my mom, ‘Can I go to another school because I don’t feel right here?” Mrs. Morales found Lighthouse online.
Even though he was raised in a Christian home, Abraham thought he wouldn’t fit in at a Christian high school.
“I thought it was going to be super strict and all that,” he admitted. “I knew there was going to be some sort of dress code. I didn’t want to wear a uniform.”
When he and his mom visited the school, he was impressed by the kind secretary, Pat Neos. “She seemed like a sweet lady,” he said.
When he heard about the football and soccer teams, he decided to play for both in his sophomore year, last year.
“I started getting better at football and learned better ways to train my body to be faster,” he said. “In soccer I learned better maneuvers, better tricks, better ways to get around a defender. I learned how to get faster.”
He trained at home, running 3-and-a-half miles every day, followed by squats and “the chair” with and without wall support. He did sprints on his backyard patio.
With all the speed, he quickly secured the left midfielder position and proved a great player.
But his strikes were striking out.
How did that change?
“I stopped firing wildly. I actually started controlling the ball and looking for the best angle possible. I learned that if I’m not crossing the ball into the midfield, then I should run down the line and wait for the ball. I learned to drive to the goal. All the jukes kid I did as a kid with my older brother helped. It just happens. I don’t really think about it on the field. It just flows.”
And the fistfights? Having chill classmates has helped him with anger management. In fact, probably no one knows his former self because he’s always smiling and joking. He’s an easy-going student.
“Lighthouse is a really fun school for me,” Abraham said. “It makes me feel like a better person being here because I’m not getting into fights. People don’t provoke me. Everybody is really kind and really nice. Everybody has their points, has their lines that you shouldn’t cross. But at Lighthouse everybody can just be themselves and have fun with another. So far, I’ve really enjoyed being