Mater Dei soccer standout headed to University of Wisconsin to play Division I soccer

By Jenelyn Russo     5/7/2018

Julia Barajas began playing soccer as most Orange County kids do—through AYSO as a four-year-old. But she also had an initial interest in gymnastics.

“It was between gymnastics and soccer,” says Barajas, “and I chose soccer.”

Now a senior at Mater Dei High School, Barajas has been a forward for the Monarchs, utilizing her love for both running and scoring. The three-year varsity player has a true joy for all aspects of the game.

“I enjoy the athleticism and the competition,” says Barajas. “I keep playing because it’s a team sport, and I like to play for my team.”

And it’s her team that Barajas will miss the most as she closes out her high school soccer career.

“I think I’m going to miss my friends, and I’m going to miss playing for my coach,” says the 18-year-old. “I think just representing Mater Dei is a huge impact on my life.”

The impact Barajas has in turn left on the Mater Dei girls soccer program is a lasting legacy of her contributions both on and off the field.

“Julia brings incredible energy,” says Mater Dei varsity girls soccer head coach, Matthew West. “She plays with tenacity, passion and is extremely skillful as well. Her creativity and ability to score big goals has been really important to our program. Off the field, Julia is a remarkable young woman. She has a playful sense of humor, loves her teammates and has a deep sense of pride in representing Mater Dei.”

Barajas has battled a serious knee injury in the past, a challenge that was tougher for her to overcome mentally than physically. Her team was a big part of her recovery, and learning the concept of teamwork is what Barajas is most grateful for in her time as a Monarch.

“A lot of people don’t know how to work as a group sometimes,” says Barajas. “I think that’s a great aspect to have in life. The coaches have done a really good job with that.”

Having committed to the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Barajas will be playing NCAA Division I soccer for the Panthers and plans to study psychology. She knows her faith plays a significant role in her life as a student athlete, and it is something she will continue to carry with her as she travels east for college.

“On the soccer field, it’s just have faith in God, trust that everything happens for a reason,” says the Corona resident.

Her mother’s “never give up attitude,” is one that continues to inspire Barajas. She considers her mom to be not only one of her biggest supporters, but one of her most influential role models as well.

“She’s taught me a lot of life lessons,” says Barajas, “and that no matter how hard life gets, just to keep going.”