Ilana Mendonca is a star on the rise, both academically and athletically.
While helping the Lady Avengers' women's soccer team to an impressive 11-1-2 mark and a berth in the NJCAA District E Championship, the 22-year old Brazilian native caught the eyes of many talent evaluators and coaches around the country.
The Computer Programming major is looking forward to the next step following a successful stint at ASA where she tallied 42 points, including 18 goals – four of which were game-winning strikes – this past season.
She noted a strong Florida contingent is recruiting her, with the hope of landing her services. Mendonca said among the more notable suitors includes the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida, Columbia University, and the University of Bridgeport.
While she said she hasn't narrowed down her choices, she reasoned that whichever school she chooses must not only meet her high standards on the pitch, but more importantly in the classroom as well.
"I honestly do not have a favorite college, but I'm looking for a place where I can adapt well and be successful both in [my] studies and in soccer," Mendonca said.
Born in the Brazilian municipality of Itapuranga, Goias, and later moving to Tucuma, Para at age nine, where her parents still reside today, Mendonca learned early the importance of being as great in the classroom as on the field.
She's slated to graduate in January, 2018 and when she does, she'll look to apply her classroom and soccer talent on a wider scale.
"I want to go to a university where I can give continuity to my studies and soccer," she declared.
Armed with a 3.5 grade-point average, and a wonderful soccer pedigree, Mendonca is well equipped to show and prove, as she's just as accomplished on the field as she's been in the books. She earned a spot on the Region XV Team, following the 2015 campaign, and was named an Honorable Mention All-American this past season.
Just as much as she is proud of her classroom work, Mendonca opined that her soccer background also helped prepare for the success she's had at ASA, and the success she intends on having next at a major college or university. Mendonca has been playing competitive soccer for seven years now, including stints with the Brazilian women's 16-and-under national team and a 2015 run in the Universiad, which is a university Olympiad that features multiple nations that compete in an array of athletic competitions.
Mendonca noted what a wonderful experience international play has been and the great honor it carries to represent her country. She also admitted that playing the game she dearly loves – which was passed down to her from a grandfather who played professionally in Brazil – still gives her butterflies, no matter what level she's playing.
"The feeling of having an important game is the same every time I play," she said. "The nervousness of not being able to sleep well, the cold in the belly before warming up -- these feelings always happen when you do what you like, and it is as if you were always doing it for the first time."
Such perspective and passion is what endeared Mendonca to her Lady Avengers teammates and head coach Brett Polow. And thankfully for ASA – and the next school to enjoy her talents – Mendonca will continue to fulfill her dreams on and off the pitch and treat every moment as if it's the most important moment of her life.