Jeremy Ortiz going pro
After a successful career with La Salle’s soccer team, senior Jeremy Ortiz has been drafted into the Major Indoor Soccer League by the New Jersey Ironmen. Ortiz was the third player taken in the college draft Jan. 29. The forward was named Atlantic 10 Honorable Mention this season after Second Team and First Team selections his sophomore and junior seasons, respectively.
New Jersey head coach Omid Namazi was very happy to have landed Ortiz. The coach had been following him at La Salle, as well as with Ortiz’s club team, the Ocean City Barons.
“He’s been on my radar for a couple of years,” Namazi said. “Every time I looked at the stat sheet [after one of his games] his name jumped out.”
Ortiz said that he had practiced with the Ironmen, and that they told him they would be looking for him in the college draft. Namazi said that Ortiz will have a “head start in November” because of the previous practices.
The Ironmen are in their first season in the MISL, and had such a high pick in the draft because of their expansion status. Namazi said that he was lucky to have a pick before the Philadelphia Kixx, another team that was interested in Ortiz.
“I actually thought I was going to Philadelphia,” Ortiz said. A change in the draft order that put the expansion teams in the beginning gave New Jersey the higher pick.
The former Explorer forward will have to fulfill a new role in his professional career.
“One area that most young players struggle with is taking care of their defensive responsibilities,” Namazi said. “In indoor, everyone has to play defense.”
Ortiz is ready for the challenge.
“I will improve in whatever the coach asks me to,” he said. “No questions asked.”
It was hard for Namazi to dwell on the possible setbacks that Ortiz might face, because he was so impressed with his strengths.
“[Ortiz] is quick, good on the ball, a good dribbler, and he has a good shot with both feet,” said Namazi. “He has the attributes to become a very good indoor soccer player.”
With such a high pick invested in Ortiz, the Ironmen are expecting him to have an impact as soon as next season. Ortiz has similar plans.
“My first goal is to come in and contribute to whatever the team needs: score goals, get assists, whatever,” he said. “I say team first, individual second. They showed that type of [philosophy]. You play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back.”
La Salle head coach Pat Farrell agrees that Ortiz has real potential.
“The indoor game might actually be suited better for Jeremy because of his speed in small spaces, as well as his technical ability,” Farrell said.
The entire La Salle athletic program will miss a player of Ortiz’s ability.
He finished his career with 17 goals, 11 assists and 45 points. He led the team in goals and points in both his sophomore and junior seasons. His senior season was disappointing statistically, with just three goals and zero assists. However, according to Farrell, the relatively low numbers were due to double- and triple-teams throughout the entire season.
“Jeremy [drew] a lot of individual attention,” said Farrell. “Teams [thought] that if they can stop Ortiz then they can stop La Salle.”
Despite teams’ attempts to take Ortiz out of games, “he was still able to be effective,” Farrell said.
Ortiz is anxious to continue playing after college.
“One of my dreams is to play professionally, and now that dream is a reality,” he said.
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