Chaidez Nets Historic Start to Collegiate Soccer Career

By Carly Buechler

Paulina Chaidez sprints past opponents to lead the Golden Eagles to victory.
At 5 feet 2 inches tall, Paulina Chaidez may not seem like the most imposing player on the soccer pitch. But the first-year striker enjoyed a historic season with the California State University, Los Angeles Golden Eagles.

The 19-year-old Chaidez was named the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, which are determined by a vote of the conference coaches. She was the first Golden Eagles soccer player to win both major awards in the same season.

Chaidez led the CCAA in nearly every key individual offensive category in women’s soccer during regular season play. She was first in goals (10), points (25) and game-winning goals (5).

Paulina Chaidez splits three Fresno Pacific soccer players.
Paulina Chaidez dribbles past opposing defender.
Her outstanding season earned Chaidez third-team All-America honors from the Division II Conference Commissioners Association and the United Soccer Coaches. She was also named to both the Division II Conference Commissioners Association and the United Soccer Coaches All-West Region First Teams. She is the first Golden Eagles women’s soccer player to receive these prestigious honors since 2014.

“Soccer makes me feel like I’m happy and free,” she says. “When I have the ball and I start dribbling, it makes me feel like I have a moment to do whatever I want.”

“Winning these awards in my first year is something I never expected,” says Chaidez, whose soft touch and powerful strike make her a formidable presence on the field.

“When I heard that I won I was very happy, excited and thankful for everything. My team and coaches were the key—because of them everything I achieved was possible.”

Chaidez, who hails from Tijuana, Mexico, developed an interest in the sport when she was 7 years old. As she watched a group of boys play, she imagined herself scoring goals and experiencing the excitement. Her school didn’t have a girls’ squad, so she teamed up with the boys. Her love of the game had begun.

“Soccer makes me feel like I’m happy and free,” she says. “When I have the ball and I start dribbling, it makes me feel like I have a moment to do whatever I want.”

Paulina Chaidez poses for the camera with Erika Lizarraga, Meranda Salazar, Zarette Munoz-Aguilar, Adriana Maldonado, and Valerie Mares.
One of her most memorable experiences in soccer, Chaidez recalls, is taking the field for the first time as a member of the Mexico women’s national team in 2015. She was recruited to play on the country’s U-20 squad three years ago and continues to train and play with the team when she is not competing for the Golden Eagles.

Her biggest moment as a Golden Eagle was in a September match against Fresno Pacific University. Chaidez scored all the goals in the 3-1 victory. It was the first Cal State LA hat trick since 2014.

Chaidez is motivated by her passion for winning and desire to continuously improve her game. “I want to be better every day.”

Chaidez also had five assists on her impressive stat sheet this season.

“Paulina’s a true team player,” teammate Zarette Munoz-Aguilar says. “She’s really smart at finishing and she has a lot of soccer IQ.”

For those who don’t know her, Chaidez can seem quiet. Teammates say that’s not the case.

“She always brings energy and she’s funny,” Munoz-Aguilar says. “Every time Paulina’s around, she lightens people up. She’s a great girl and a great soccer player.”

Chaidez is motivated by her passion for winning and desire to continuously improve her game. “I want to be better every day,” she says.

“I’m grateful for all the things that soccer gave me,” Chaidez adds, noting that the sport has provided her the opportunity to play in Los Angeles, where she can pursue her dream of becoming a mechanical engineer.

Paulina Chaidez celebrates a victory on the field with her teammates.
Paulina Chaidez looks for teammates up the field while dribbling the ball.
That excitement for mechanical engineering comes from her father. An electrical engineer, he talked to her about the profession while she was growing up and helped fuel her interest in math and physics.

With her first year of collegiate soccer behind her, Chaidez and the rest of the Golden Eagles team look forward to another successful season next fall. Chaidez is expecting to score big in her classes as well.

“She’s a great student and a dynamic player,” head coach Isabelle Harvey says. “She’s brought a lot of talent to our team, and I’m excited to see how far she’s going to develop with us. She’s definitely a great fit.”

Photos by Gareth Mackay

Group photo (from left): Erika Lizarraga, Meranda Salazar, Paulina Chaidez, Zarette Munoz-Aguilar, Adriana Maldonado, and Valerie Mares.

President
William A. Covino
 
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Jose A. Gomez
 
Vice President for University Advancement
Janet S. Dial
 
Executive Director for Communications and Public Affairs
Robert J. Lopez
Editor
Jocelyn Y. Stewart
 
Graphic Designers
Nery Orellana
Alcie Villoria
Edward J. Kitaoka
Cory Grabow
 
Photographers
J. Emilio Flores
Tyrone Washington
Gareth Mackay
 
Online Magazine
Caroline Lee
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Contributors
Jillian Beck
Carly Buechler
Robert J. Lopez
Margie Low
Akanksha Prabhune
Madeline Tondi
LeAnn Zuniga
 
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Irwin Medina
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Credits
President
William A. Covino
 
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Jose A. Gomez
 
Vice President for University Advancement
Janet S. Dial
 
Executive Director for Communications and Public Affairs
Robert J. Lopez
 
Editor
Jocelyn Y. Stewart
 
Graphic Designers
Nery Orellana
Alcie Villoria
Edward J. Kitaoka
Cory Grabow
 
Photographers
J. Emilio Flores
Tyrone Washington
Gareth Mackay
LeAnn Zuniga
 
Online Magazine
Caroline Lee
Edward J. Kitaoka
 
Contributors
Jillian Beck
Carly Buechler
Robert J. Lopez
Margie Low
Akanksha Prabhune
Madeline Tondi
 
Editorial Assistant
Irwin Medina