Hart senior forward Alyssa Irwin is well known around the Santa Clarita Valley for her exploits on the pitch. Defenses have had a hard time trying to stop her for the last two years.
The Indians have torn through the Foothill League for the last six years and they are showing no signs of slowing down. They boast a 14-1-2 overall record and are undefeated (3-0) in the Foothill League. Hart has torched defenses with an average margin of victory of 3.78 goals.
“This season is really exciting,” Irwin said. “We’ve done really good in league this year. It’s been really nice and I’m really excited. I think we can go really far in CIF this year.”
Irwin has played at Hart all four years of her high school career but really flourished as a player during the last two. She became a standout player after a spectacular junior season with the Indians in which she scored 22 goals and assisted in another six.
“It’s crazy because last year I did way better than I ever expected,” she said. “I was a little bit worried that it was one of those years where you do really good and you’re not sure why.”
Last season, she earned All-Foothill League and All-SCV Player of the Year honors. Now, she’s on pace to win both of those awards again.
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This season, Irwin has left her old self in the dust. With only seven games remaining before the postseason, she has scored 26 goals and assisted her teammates on another eight goals. She even had a four-game stretch where earning a hat trick was just another day at the office for her.
“It’s been really nice to build on last season and not have that as a one-time thing,” she said. “I was scared that I wouldn’t live up to the season like I did last season.”
While what Irwin does on the pitch on a weekly basis may not come as a surprise to residents of the Santa Clarita Valley, they may be surprised to learn that they have also likely seen her on their television screens.
From a young age, Irwin has been a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild. Her dad, Craig Irwin, is an actor himself. He got Irwin and her older brother, Trent, involved in acting when she was just three years old.
“Mostly commercials, sometimes theatrical things,” she said. “I remember a lot of the theatrical auditions. I enjoyed actual acting. I really liked the experience. I would do it again.”
Irwin is grateful for the experience her father gave her as an actor. In her opinion, auditioning for commercials and theatrical roles gave her confidence and helped her develop important social skills.
“When you go through auditions, it’s hard to talk to (casting agents) because you don’t know them, but I think it really helps your confidence and, like, talking skills,” she said. “I think it’s really important in life to be able to talk to people. I do think it helped me in that way.”
Despite the fun she had and the life lessons she learned, Irwin had to leave acting behind. Soccer is where her true passion lies.
“It’s been a creative way to express myself, but ever since I got in high school and soccer became more serious, I didn’t have enough time for it, so I haven’t done it recently,” Irwin said. “Soccer has been my life for as long as I can remember.”
Her soccer career doesn’t end with graduation in June, though. Irwin already has plans to play for the University of California, Santa Barbara in the fall. She hopes to bring a little of what she learned from Hart to the Gauchos and learn a little bit more herself, continuing to build off of the progress she’s made with the Indians.
“I’m really excited to play there,” Irwin said. “I chose it because it’s such a great school and they’re really good at soccer.”
A school like UCSB requires a lot more than a strong leg to gain admission. It is a school that only accepts 38.7% of its applicants and requires nearly straight A’s to gain admission. Luckily for Irwin, she has been a straight-A student her whole life and expects to graduate with a 4.5 GPA.
“School has always been super important for me,” she said. “I’m a student-athlete. I’m both. It’s not one or the other.”
Hart’s Alyssa Irwin. January 15, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal
Alongside continuing her soccer career, Irwin plans to get a degree in elementary education. She then plans to return home and teach, or at least stay in California if she can.
“I really like California,” she said. “I have lots of friends here. I love the weather. I love the beach. I just really like California, so I wanted to stay for college, and I want to come back after college.”
She doesn’t have to leave just yet. Irwin still has a season to finish, a title to chase and records to break with the Indians before heading an hour and a half west to the beaches of Santa Barbara.
“I’m grateful for all the memories that I’ve had,” Irwin said. “It’s really prepared me for college and I’m super thankful for that. Honestly, I wish I could play four more years here, but you’ve got to move on, you’ve got to have change, you’ve got to get better.”