NewsTribune Girls Soccer Player of the Year: L-P’s Danica Scoma

Midfielder was a dominant force in leading L-P to record number of wins

L-P's Danica Scoma is the 2024 girls soccer player of the year.

In years past, La Salle-Peru senior Danica Scoma would get pushed around on the soccer field.

Opponents could knock her down or push past her to beat her to the ball.

She wasn’t going to let that happen for her senior season.

“On the field I really wanted to establish myself as a player with confidence and strength,” Scoma said. “In many of the games I held off players who in years before definitely would have thrown me around a bit.”

She established herself by lifting in the offseason and eating right to put on muscle to go along with fine-tuning her skills through travel soccer.

“In the offseason, I focused really heavily on getting stronger,” Scoma said. “One of my goals was to eliminate the opportunity for opponents to put me to the ground or get beat simply because they were bigger and stronger than me. So I went to the gym almost every single day. I changed my diet so I could gain muscle. I put on at least 15 pounds of muscle.”

Scoma also went out for wrestling and she said the skills she learned on the mat translated to the soccer field.

“Wrestling was a whole new experience that I wanted to put myself in,” Scoma said. “I thought it would be something fun to get me in shape for the season. I ended up getting both that physical and mental strength through the sport, and I really think my performance and confidence this year on the soccer field is mirroring that work I put in on the mat.”

A stronger Scoma was an even bigger threat than she was in the past.

She scored an area-best 26 goals, dished out an area-best 24 assists and led the Cavaliers to a school-record 14 wins and the program’s first ever regional final appearance.

For all she accomplished this season, Scoma is the the NewsTribune Girls Soccer Player of the Year for the second year in a row.

“She had a great season,” L-P coach Christin Pappas said. “She broke several more records for our school, not just on the girls side but both sides. She made a huge impact no matter what it took. It was a pleasure to watch.”

As a junior, Scoma scored a school-record 30 goals.

But with fellow senior Litzy Lopez (15 goals, 12 assists) back from injury and classmate Abigail Poole (16 goals, 11 assists) also a strong threat to score, Scoma went into the season knowing the team didn’t need to rely on her as much to score and gave her the chance to set up teammates more.

The result was a much better offensive team as the Cavs scored 91 goals this spring compared to 50 in 2023.

“I knew since we had such an offensive team this year it wouldn’t be just me scoring all the goals, so I wanted to create as many creative plays as I could and have the highest number of assists,” Scoma said. “It was so much easier to set up my teammates this year in comparison to last year. Having that trust and chemistry with my teammates who were surrounding me on all sides, it was really nice and easy to find those creative plays and simple passes that made those goal-scoring opportunities.”

Scoma was a part of so many goals despite being the focal point for opposing defenses, often being double or triple marked.

Pappas said her strength and skill helped her overcome the defense’s efforts.

“She’s the type of player who puts in the work year round,” Pappas said. “She decided to wrestle this year, which made her even more fierce. She was able to hold off girls who were triple her size. Her pure strength with the ball and without the ball, she was unstoppable. She’s a threat when she’s double marked or triple marked because of her strength.

“You could physically see how strong she is. She gets low to the ground and she can turn on a dime. She’s ambidextrous with her feet so she doesn’t have a disadvantage either way, so if they try to turn her left she’s just as strong.”

Everything Scoma did from the weight lifting, offseason training, changing her diet, wrestling and even drinking pickle juice and mustard before games to prevent cramping, was to help the team win.

“Danica is a competitor,” Pappas said. “She loves to win. She loves to play. She wants to be on the field and she wants to impact the game and she does.”

Scoma’s dedication and skills have helped take the program to new heights during her four-year career.

L-P's Danica Scoma rips a wide-open shot against Morris during the Class 2A Regional semifinal game on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 at the L-P Athletic Complex in La Salle.

“A lot of the girls look up to Danica,” Pappas said. “She’s made such an impact because she’ll do anything it takes. It’s going to be emotional losing her, but she’s grown into this absolutely amazing person over the last few years, and I’m positive that it’s just the beginning for her. She’ll undoubtedly go so far in all of her endeavors. It’s definitely going to be something for the girls to live up to. I think having her as part of the program for the last four years as helped the other players grow as well.”

Scoma said it was “fulfilling” to see the program’s growth during her career.

“Everyone involved in this team has worked so hard to make it happen through these past four years,” Scoma said. “I’d go to practice and feel nothing but support from everyone, and that motivated me every single day.

“It was really satisfying to see the growth we’ve all made together. I’m really beyond proud of everyone’s performances.”

Scoma will continue her career at Illinois Valley Community College along with teammates Lopez, Poole and Coral Garcia and she hopes to help build the Eagles’ program.

“I never wanted my soccer career to end after high school to the opportunity to play at IVCC will only help me grow more,” Scoma said. “For me, playing in college and playing this close is very important to bring more attention and love to the sport. I’d really like to help this area grow as a whole. I’m hoping to continue training hard and forming chemistry with my new team. Playing with my teammates (from L-P) next year is going to be incredible, and I think the chemistry we’ve created at L-P is really going to go into IVCC.

“My hope is to be part of something great again just as we created in this program. Playing collegiately is a choice and a commitment, so I look forward to connecting with this group of girls who have the same amount of passion as me.”

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