Ekstrom, Dantzer Are Murrieta Valley Athletes of Month

Soccer players Luke Ekstrom and Dakota Dantzer of Murrieta Valley High School have been named February Murrieta 24/7 Athletes of the Month,...

Soccer players Luke Ekstrom and Dakota Dantzer of Murrieta Valley High School have been named February Murrieta 24/7 Athletes of the Month, sponsored by the Photos DLite photo studio.

Ekstrom, a senior defender, had a standout season for the Nighthawks boys soccer team. He was an inspiration to his teammates with his technique and methodical play on the field. He also displayed a lot of pride in wearing the Nighthawks uniform.

"Throughout the season I stayed motivated because of my deep love for my high school," he said. "I have an incredible amount of pride in being a Nighthawk and I knew that every time I put on my jersey, I would be representing Murrieta Valley High School. I did my best to frequently remind my teammates, who I consider to be my brothers, that we should represent our school with pride."

Ekstrom plans to attend a four-year university and major in secondary education and physics, with the goal of becoming a physics teacher. He might also try to walk on as a college soccer player.

"I would say the key to playing defense is to 'play smart,' " he said. "If at all possible, analyze the strengths of the opposing team and do what you can to shut them down. A key part of my personal defensive game was my ability to strategically position myself throughout the game so as to give myself an advantage in various scenarios such as counter attacks.

"My personal highlight was during a preseason match against Centennial High School when I scored a free kick, giving my team momentum which then translated to a win."

Dantzer displayed an eye for the ball for the girls soccer team, whether playing center mid or forward for the Nighthawks.

"I would like to say my greatest strength as a player is, like my coach says, my vision," she said. "Just knowing where the ball should go and the next quickest play to get the ball out of pressure while also going towards goal. I always tried to both maintain possession of the ball for myself and my team but also while making the best possible route to goal."

Dantzer also spoke about the challenges she faced in coming back from injuries during the season.

"This season, to say the least, was rough for both our team and specifically myself," she said. "As a team, we always had a reasonable amount of players who were always hurt and we would have half a team practicing and that was hard as a captain going into games. A few games into the season, I strained my hamstring and had to come back from that. Then the first game in league I subluxed my shoulder and had to keep playing, and I played in the future games because we just had so many girls out, there was no option."

Despite also suffering a sprained wrist and a concussion, Dantzer finished the season strong. She was an inspiration to her teammates and impressed her coach, Shane Ebert.

"Dakota is such a great young lady," Ebert said. "She has a positive energy that she brings to the team that is one of those great imeasurables. She is great on the ball, very creative. Her composure during play really helps to slow the game down and allows her to have great vision. Playing through the grind of bumps and bruises this year really revealed her warrior spirit. I cannot say enough positive things about her."

Ekstrom and Dantzer will receive a free portrait from Photos DLite. The school will also receive one for display.


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