Andres Lozano holds on to the dream

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Cougars men’s soccer forward Andres Lozano never imagined that his life would take an unexpected turn, putting his studies and soccer dreams in jeopardy.

Born in Mexico, Lozano moved to Newhall as a child and played soccer at Golden Valley High School for the four years he was there.

“I started playing soccer at the age of 6,” Lozano said. “I would go to the park and watch my dad play, and I got into it because of him.”

At an early age, Lozano knew what he wanted to do with his life, soccer and others around him noticed his talent, too.

“I knew that’s what I wanted to do from the get-go,” Lozano said.

With a coach taking an eye to his talent, Lozano was invited to train and play in Brazil.

“I had the chance to go and play, but because of finances I couldn’t go,” Lozano said. “But I never gave up and kept going, and here I am again.”

Putting his head down and not giving up on his dream, Lozano, now 26, pushed through, ultimately graduating from Golden Valley and enrolling at College of the Canyons in the summer of 2014. Lozano was confident and excited about his future at COC.

“I was a bit scared, but I liked the program a lot because we are like a family, and I enjoyed playing with a family that I know and I can support,” Lozano said.

Using that bond and passion, Canyons finished with a 10-3-6 record during the 2014-15 season, with Lozano leading the Cougars in goals (7) and points (17) while coming off the bench in all but one game.

The future looked bright for Lozano.

However, with just weeks left in the 2014-15 school year, Lozano received a call from his brother, notifying him his mother was having heart problems, among other issues, in Georgia.

Not knowing what to do and concerned for his mother’s health, Lozano decided to stay and finish out the school year.

But with just two weeks left until the beginning of summer, Lozano received another call.

“It was my mother,” Lozano said. “She said that she was feeling really ill.”

Without hesitation, Lozano dropped everything, including school and soccer, and made his way across the country to Atlanta.

Working as a Verizon technician to pay his mother’s medical bills, Lozano put his mother’s health and his family’s well-being above soccer and his studies by moving to Atlanta.

“She’s a lot better now, but it was tough on me personally because I had to drop out of school and soccer,” he said. “I had to basically drop my entire life — but at the same time, I didn’t mind because that’s my mom.”

Putting his future on pause, Lozano spent the last four years living in Atlanta. He never even laced up his soccer cleats.

“All I did was just run,” Lozano said. “I never played soccer out there, but I just ran. That’s what I would do to stay in shape.”

With his mother healthy once again, Lozano was able to enroll at Canyons for the 2018-19 school year and hit the “play” button on his final year of eligibility.

“I have to get my skills back to how they were before,” Lozano said. “Obviously, four years of not playing, my touches were off. It was like my first time playing soccer.”

Canyons is 2-1-1 with four games into the season, but head coach Philip Marcellin can see the knowledge and potential that Lozano has after taking a four-year hiatus.

“He’s more mature and he sees things a little bit differently,” Marcellin said. “But the important thing is he’s back in school. He’s going to be progressing and that’s what we are after.”

Lozano is confident in this year’s team, and has taken it upon himself to instill some of the knowledge that he picked up during the years in his teammates.

“With this team and the quality that we have, we can make it far,” Lozano said. “…I want to support them and make them better players than what I was when I first started and at the end of the day, that’s my goal. Whether I play or not, I want them to be better.”

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