Historic Season Adds To Dominguez's Unlikely Story
AMES, Iowa - When Jennifer Dominguez first made the more than 900-mile trip from her hometown of Lubbock, Texas, to Iowa State in the fall of 2009, leading the Big 12 in goals scored and being one of the top goal scorers in Cyclone history was a near impossibility.
If Dominguez were to do anything athletically at Iowa State, golf was the prohibitive favorite.
During her senior year of high school, Dominguez chose to come to Iowa State because her godparents were alums, and she had visions of taking a swing at being on the Cyclone women's golf team. As high school graduation drew closer, Dominguez decided against playing golf and wanted to have a college experience that did not include playing sports.
A semester into her Iowa State experience, Dominguez felt the competitive urge but did not get her golf cleats out of storage. Instead, she went for her soccer cleats and was given an opportunity by the Iowa State coaching staff to try out for the team during spring practice.
"The competitive spirit and the fire we saw in her was what initially drew us to her during that first spring," Iowa State head coach Wendy Dillinger said. "She had a lot to learn when she first started here, but always shook her head yes and was willing to learn."
An opportunity has led to an offensive juggernaut for the Cyclones.
In her junior campaign, Dominguez is the second Cyclone in program history to reach the 11-goal plateau in a season, and she currently leads the Big 12 in goals scored. The left-footed forward is also amongst the nation's best, as she is ranked 10th nationally in goals scored.
Despite her impressive achievements, Dominguez remains grounded.
"I don't really think too much about it," she said. "It excites me because it is helping put this program on the map and giving us respect and putting us in the spotlight a little bit in the Big 12. As long as it is getting recognition for Iowa State and this program, I am all for it. "
A self-described "scrappy" player, Dominguez's playing style fits her unlikely rise to prominence. Hardworking, smart and opportunistic would all be valid descriptions in how Dominguez finds the back of the net at an elite rate. Dominguez is constantly moving to be in dangerous positions so when her teammates get her the ball, the opposition's defense is under immediate pressure.
In addition to getting in position to score, Dominguez has an incredible ability to finish her opportunities. Dominguez's 11 goals this season have come from a mere 35 shots. Her 31-percent shooting percentage is the best in program history in a season for a player that has taken at least 10 shots.
"I don't always have the prettiest goals, but I am always there to somehow get it in the back of the net whether it is with my head or even my stomach, " Dominguez said. "Also, following shots is important. (Our coaches) are saying continuously you never know what is going to happen with the goalkeeper when the ball is shot. I think that helps contribute to my success by getting those scrappy goals."
Scoring goals is often looked at as an individual achievement, but Dominguez is quick to heap the praise on her teammates' role.
"My teammates definitely work the ball really well around the field and serve the ball and put it in the right place," Dominguez said. "A lot of times, I am just kind of at the right place at the right time."
Dominguez admits she wasn't sure what she was getting herself into when she first joined the Cyclones. However, her mentality has changed from just being excited to be on the team to being a leader.
"My mindset has probably changed a little bit over the years," she said. "My first year here I wasn't really expecting much. I trained hard this offseason and saw the things I could do during the spring, and I am mentally there now."
"We talked in the off-season and told her she had the ability to score 15 goals this year," Dillinger said. "I think that tangible goal pushed her to work hard in the off-season. She has a lot of fight and a real passion for the game and will do whatever it takes."
Dominguez's journey from student to student-athlete to Big 12 leader is impressive, but if her history of continuous improvement is any sign, her story is far from finished.