Burlingame High's Matt Fondy was so excited to start his senior season of high school soccer that he showed up an hour early to his first practice.
Daily Journal Sports File
Burlingame striker Matt Fondy, left, was a marked man all year but he was
seldom stopped. The senior scored 15 goals and added 11 assists as the
Panthers won the Bay Division title.
"And he wasn't cutting class," Burlingame coach Fred Cesano said. "He was showing up early to practice all year. Generally some of these guys will take a day off and start gliding, and he didn't do that."
Fondy, the Daily Journal's boys' soccer player of the year, was at times a highlight-reel moment waiting to happen. He had 15 goals and 11 assists a year after finishing with zero points in an injury-plagued season. To go from rock-bottom to the top, Fondy couldn't have asked for anything more. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound forward was unstoppable at times and strong in nearly every phase of the game.
He has tremendous ball control skills, deceptive speed, exceptional jumping ability and can shoot lasers off both feet. Fondy combines a superior skill set along with a passion for the game.
"Soccer means everything to me," he said. "I can't imagine what my life would be without it."
In two short years, Fondy went from being an outsider to a team player. From a nonfactor to one of the best players in the Central Coast Section. From a nightmarish junior year to a stellar senior campaign. After tearing his right quadriceps before his junior season, Fondy had to rest for six months while his leg healed. In that time, he worked exclusively with his left foot, developing skills he would have never gained without the injury. So in that sense, the injury was a good thing, because it forced him to become a complete player.
"I really had no idea what I was going to get from him last year," Cesano said. "He really dedicated himself to improving, and as the season rolled on he became a force. He really holds the ball well and can take on and beat guys 1-on-1. He learned how to play more unselfishly. I've coached a long time and seen a lot of players, and he's something. He was a loner at first and by the time he left was a popular player. He really blossomed and to see somebody improve that much is really rewarding as a coach."
Fondy had visions of leading Burlingame to a section title, but those goals were quickly dashed when the Panthers blew leads of 3-0 and 4-2 in a stunning first-round playoff loss to Gonzales, which eventually went on to win the championship. Fondy did his part, scoring two goals and assisting on another. But as the team's best player, he took some responsibility for the loss.
"I kind of blame myself a little bit," Fondy said. "I can remember situations where maybe I could've had one more touch or shot and that would've made the difference. It was horrible. Everything just broke down. We played great at the start and then fell apart. I don't know what happened. We'd win 9 out of 10 against those guys. It was devastating. There's a lot of regret."
Disappointment aside, Fondy has a bright future. He'll be playing soccer at the college level, he's just not sure where. Right now he's playing for his club team, the San Carlos Barracudas, who are still alive in the State Cup.
"I've gained an appreciation for being healthy," he said. "It's been pretty sweet coming back from last year and being able to play now. Whenever I'm going at someone I think I can get by them."
Fondy proved to be equally adept at scoring and passing the ball.
"As long as we score, it doesn't matter if I do it or if my pass leads to a goal," he said. "Unless it's a sick volley, then I'll take that every time."