When St. Joseph senior Eduardo Gutierrez used to give junior teammate Jonathan Rosales a ride to practice, Gutierrez made the most of the trips.
“I talked him into being a goalie because we needed one at the time,” Gutierrez said. “He was a little bummed out by it. He was fighting the fact he had to step in and fill the role at first, but he assumed the responsibility and has gotten a lot better. He’s been our missing piece and is a big part of the team.”
Rosales is all-in these days.
When a concussion sidelined St. Joseph’s goalkeeper early last season, Rosales volunteered despite not having played the position since eighth grade.
“I was nervous, but at the same time, I was confident because the team pushed me every day to do the best that I could,” said Rosales, who was a forward on the frosh-soph team as a freshman. “There was no one to shoot at in practice, so I would always go in goal. My teammates liked how I played and told me I could be the goalie.”
Although it had been a couple of years since he played the position, Rosales had plenty of experience as a goalkeeper. He was introduced to the position at age 6 by his uncle Eduardo Lopez, who was a goalie with Mexico’s Club Atlético Morelia reserves team.
“He talked to me about how he trained over there and what it was like being a goalie,” the Cicero resident said. “I asked him to train me and we would always go to the pitch and he would work with me as a goalie and forward. I played goalie until eighth grade, but I really started liking forward because there was more action. I decided I wanted to help our team out, though.”
Rosales has made big strides. He earned the shutout in St. Joseph’s 7-0 win over Lisle Saturday in Westchester.
His experience on varsity as a sophomore when he helped the Chargers finish 17-3-1 and reach the sectional semifinal was beneficial. Rosales knew he still needed work, however, so he decided to attend Camp Shutout in Wisconsin during the summer.
“It really helped,” St. Joseph coach Stan Niemiec said. “He has more technical skills. As a sophomore you’re going to be a little scared and shaky back there, but his confidence level is much better. He learned some of the basic skills of foundation and understands more about being a goalkeeper.”
The camp experience proved extremely beneficial to the junior.
“The biggest thing I learned was you have to have a really strong mentality,” Rosales said. “You can’t be frightened between the three posts. You can’t be scared when guys are coming at you. You have to be mentally and physically strong.”