Clarksville, Ark.-From 1998-2001 University of the Ozarks soccer star Marcos Gonzalez displayed a creative flair that no other player has matched in the American Southwest Conference's 13-year history.
The Georgetown, Texas, native will be inducted into Ozarks Sports Hall of Fame with former basketball standout Anthony Porchia in a special ceremony on Feb. 14.
The four-time All-Conference striker displayed a natural ability to create scoring opportunities for himself and others, according to Dave De Hart, his former head coach at Ozarks. It was that creative scoring ability that put his name in the ASC and NCAA record books.
“I never imaged I would hold any records,” said Gonzalez, who was voted the ASC Offensive Player of the Year in 2001. “I was just happy to be able to play soccer and go to college. Other players were better and more talented than me, but I just trained harder.”
A will to train gave Gonzalez the edge he believes helped him be successful at the collegiate level.
“I felt like I had a knack for the game, but I trained like there was no tomorrow,” said Gonzalez. “I practiced shots over and over, and once I got in a game I felt like I could score. I went inside the gym during cold weather and practiced. I trained a lot.”
The prolific scorer still owns nine conference records - points (66) and assists (26) in a season, points (149) and assists (45) in a career, points per game in a season (3.00) and career (1.91), assists per game in a season (1.18) and career (0.57) and assists in a game (8) - and he remains the only player in league history to record 40 goals and 40 assists. His 8 assists in a single match are second-most in the NCAA III record books.
De Hart said Gonzalez is no doubt one of the elite players in ASC history.
“Marcos is in the conversation as one of the best players in ASC history without a doubt,” said De Hart. “Of all the players I have seen in this conference the past ten years, he is the most individually creative. He had tremendous individual technical ability. He displayed more imagination with the ball and could create things that other players couldn’t. He was a pure goal scorer and that is not taught. That is God-given.”
De Hart said Gonzalez’s fitness level was also key to his success.
“He had a tremendous work rate,” said De Hart. “His fitness level was always a gift. At the end of matches he was still playing at full speed.”
Ironically, Gonzalez didn’t like to run.
“I never liked running,” said Gonzalez. “Running was not fun to me, but soccer was fun and I wanted to be a good soccer player. I knew in order to be successful I had to be in top shape.”
Gonzalez will be the first soccer player inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame at Ozarks.
“I was surprised to be selected,” said Gonzalez. “It is incredible that I was chosen for something so special. To be the first soccer player is an honor. I feel like it is an honor to the whole team and the program. It is neat to be a part of a program that has gained respect.”
Gonzalez led the Eagles to the ASC East Division title with a 18-3-1 overall record in 2001. That season he was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Region First Team. He holds a number of season records at Ozarks and is first in career points, assists and shots (367). He is second in career goals (52).
Gonzalez points to helping the soccer program gain respect as one of his best memories during his playing career.
“In a year or two, we were the most respected team in the ASC,” said Gonzalez. “That fact that we were freshmen and sophomores and competed with older teams sticks out. We felt disrespected by other teams and no one had any expectations for us. As a group, we stayed together. Every single player had the heart. We had a goal of making a name for Ozarks.”
The field wasn’t the only place Gonzalez succeeded. He was a member of the ASC All-Academic Team for three seasons and was among the most respected student-athletes on campus. He served as President of Ozarks’ Phi Beta Lambda organization for one year and was the Vice-President of the state PBL for another. The student body also voted the business administration major to speak at graduation.
“Being a student-athlete was a perfect stepping stone for my future professional and family life,” said Gonzalez, who quickly climbed the ranks at Chase Bank after playing semi-pro soccer. “My experiences at Ozarks helped make my transition to the business world much smoother. I owe a lot to Ozarks. Ozarks helped me realize you can do anything you want. It is small, but it opened up a world of opportunities. I will always love the school and the team.”
Gonzalez and his wife, Chrystal, are the parents of two sons, Marcos III and Cavan.