Following his senior year at Laurel, soccer standout Juan Lechuga will continue his athletic career at JCJC. The center-defender signed his LOI last Friday morning at Laurel High School.
Lechuga, who was also offered by Southwest and Hinds Community College, said his decision came down to location and Jones’ comfortable atmosphere.
“I know some of the players at Jones, and I wanted to stay close to home,” said Lechuga. “I also know the coach pretty well. I just felt comfortable at Jones. I was offered by other schools, but they were much farther away.”
The Laurel captain spent two months of his senior season sidelined due to an injury.
“I got injured in my first game [this past season],” shared Lechuga. “But I did have a chance to come back and play towards the end of the season.
“We didn’t make the playoffs for the second year in a row, but our team played great despite having a young team. We had a lot of eight-graders, freshman and sophomores on the field.”
Laurel head boys soccer coach Julio Martinez praised Lechuga as a player and senior captain on and off the field. Martinez also recalled the first time Lechuga made the Laurel varsity squad back in 2015.
“It took Juan two or three years to make the team,” recalled the Laurel coach. “He tried out for two years in a row, and at the time I didn’t feel like he was prepared to be on the team. But he never gave up and kept working hard. On his third try-out, he made the team as a sophomore. After that, he was here every afternoon working out with the older players. Those guys adopted him, so to speak, and helped him become the player he is today. I’m so proud of him and the message he leaves behind of never giving up.”
“Lechuga is a great young man,” Martinez added. “And I’m not saying that because he’s one of my players. This past season he also played with the Hattiesburg Futbol Club. In his first time playing for a select team, he was selected to be the captain of that team too because of the leadership skills he has.
After his high school season ended, Lechuga helped the South All-Stars defeat the North All-Stars in the Baptist Rehab Services 2018 MS All-Star Soccer game. He was honored as the game’s most valuable defensive player.