Marcela Montoya appreciates every moment on the pitch for Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern star Marcela Montoya spent her early years in Medellin, Colombia before moving to Florida when she was eight years old. “I am so proud to be Colombian and representing my roots here in the United States,” she said. “I am thankful to have lived in Colombia because it allowed me to learn the culture, be with all my family, and learn the language.”

“I am beyond thankful for my parents for everything they have done for me and my brothers so that we can be successful in our careers and future.”

Montoya had the chance to represent Colombia’s U-20 national team in 2015 for U-20 World Cup qualifying. “It was so amazing. I still think about it to this day and think about the friendships and experiences it allowed me to have,” she recalled. “Seeing my last name in the national team jersey and playing internationally was a dream come true. I learned so much from that experience and grew tremendously in those months I was with the team.”

“It would unbelievable to play for the senior team, hopefully, I get the chance to represent my country again.”

When asked who her favorite Colombian player of all-time, she selected one of the country’s current brightest stars. “I love watching James Rodriguez play,” Montoya said. “I play very similar to his style of play and he plays center midfield as well so when I watch him play, I try to analyze what he does and learn from him. He’s a true playmaker and makes a big difference when he’s on the field which is always a goal for me to do.”

Unfortunately, injuries prevented Montoya from staying on the field and making a difference at times in her NCAA career with Georgia Southern. In 2017, Marcela tore her ACL in her right knee in the offseason and missed her entire sophomore season. Then, in 2019, her season ended prematurely when she tore her ACL in her left knee. She explained, “It was devastating to hear the news both times, especially since it’s a season ending injury which a lot of people have a hard time coming back from. The first time I tore it was very hard and (I) struggled a lot. In the end, it really taught me a lot about my myself and how important it is to be mentally strong.”

“The second time I tore my ACL in the other knee was still really hard to take in especially because it had been less than 2 years since my first surgery. The difference this time was that I had already gone through the process before and knew the struggles and pain expected from the injury. My mindset was very different because I was mentally stronger and knowing that this injury didn’t affect me as a player or performance made me feel confident that I could come back again.”

Montoya added, “I am so grateful for my trainer, Josh Krispin, because he was with me in both injuries and pushed me in the training room/rehab which allowed me to come back 100% with no problem. It was not easy at all, but I had amazing people that helped keep my head high and support me.”

Now, as a redshirt senior, Montoya has found her stride for Georgia Southern. Over the weekend, she scored her fourth and fifth goals of the season in a win over Troy. “I think my mentality is what has helped me a lot this year and being able to score,” she said. “Coming back from injury is always hard, but for me, I’m enjoying every moment I step on the field. As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that I do my best when I’m having fun and being grateful for playing so that’s the mindset I’ve been going in every game.” She also added that she’s always working on improving on her fitness and increasing her speed of play.

While Montoya has found some individual success in 2020, Georgia Southern has struggled to find consistency as their record sits at 3-8-1. She said, “It has definitely been an odd year but what has helped has been the mentality of getting better and better every day. Every game we have played, we’ve increased our chemistry on the field and have been learning our strengths and have analyzed what we need to get better at.” She highlighted the importance of closing the regular season strong ahead of the Sun Belt Tournament to build confidence.

With her time on the pitch for Georgia Southern coming to an end soon, Montoya isn’t tied to one specific plan for her future. “It would be amazing to play professionally but I’m not sure yet,” Marcela said. “I earned my Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering this past spring and I’m now earning my Master’s degree in mechanical engineering, so I have a lot of great opportunities in the future with my major.”

“I would have to see where I am at when I get to that moment and see what will be best for me and my future career.”

The immediate future for Montoya and the Georgia Southern Eagles will be tomorrow’s regular season finale vs. Coastal Carolina before the Sun Belt Tournament kicks off next week.

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.