Since her days in youth soccer, Leah Iglesias was receiving one of the best compliments an athlete of any age could hear.
"People always told me I was just fun to watch," Iglesias said. "Whether I was running down a defender, or a ball could have been going out of bounds, I was still going to sprint to it. I think since I was so fun to watch and everyone was telling me this, it just felt good to have everybody compliment me because I wanted to be on the field. I wanted to put on a show. I wanted to be competitive. I wanted to win games. It was all I knew."
The Carle Place senior forward competed for her starting varsity spot as a freshman — she didn’t want anything handed to her. She competed for a spot on one of the top travel teams in the area with the East Meadow Soccer Club.
And she nearly set a Nassau record in the process. Iglesias graduates as Nassau’s second-leading goal-scorer with 110 goals. She trails only Cathy Wood, who graduated from Port Washington in 1984 with 113 goals, according to the Section VIII record book compiled by Jack White, who passed away in 2015.
Iglesias took over second place from East Rockaway's Kailey Hyland, who finished her high school career with 103 goals in 2019, according to Nassau County Coaches Association president Lauren Brossard. Iglesias eclipsed Hyland's spot while scoring four goals during a 7-1 victory over West Hempstead on April 10.
"It’s honestly such an amazing feeling," Iglesias said. "I think back to all the sacrifices and I tell myself, ‘Wow, it was really worth it.’ Everything comes full circle and the amazing love and support I’ve received from my team, coaches and community have meant the world to me."
The Hofstra-bound star tallied 27 goals and eight assists this year and led her team to the Nassau Class B final — a 1-0 loss to Wheatley on Tuesday.
"It’s just impressive to watch her. Sometimes you are speechless when you see the stuff she pulls off," said former head coach Erik Tonner, who started the Carle Place girls soccer program 18 years ago and coached Iglesias on varsity until this season. "For the history of Carle Place, this is a big moment. For us to look at a kid like this, she’s someone we are going to talk about forever."
Iglesias credits growing up in a competitive household with two older brothers (Dylan, 22, Corey, 20) for making her a tougher player.
"It was always, who was going to win," Iglesias said. "Whether it be a little competition at home or on the sports field. We were wrestling, they made me so tough and I think I just brought that onto the soccer field."
Iglesias had 38 goals and eight assists last season, including scoring the winning goal on a 21-yard strike off a free kick in a 1-0 victory over Cold Spring Harbor in the Nassau Class B championship game.
"It’s really fun to be able to see what she can do," coach Katie Bohack said. "You don’t see many players at the high school level be able to do that or score that many goals."
Even with all her scoring ability, Iglesias’ competitive nature drives her to one goal at the end — winning.
"I think the most important thing is to remind myself of my why," Iglesias said. "Every time I step on that field I tell myself that I’m here because I love the game. Doesn’t matter who’s watching, who we are playing, who I’m playing with, against, I’m out there because I love the game of soccer. I love being competitive and I love the feeling after it."
An earlier version of this story indicated that Iglesias was the leading goal-scorer in Nassau County history.