Performance: Holland's Jose Penaloza

Boys Soccer


November 9, 2017

Jose Penaloza
Holland Soccer – Senior

Penaloza, a four-year varsity starting forward, averaged more than a point per game during the Division 2 tournament to help Holland claim its first MHSAA Finals championship. He scored his final high school goal in the Dutch’s 3-0 win over East Lansing in Saturday’s championship match to earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

An all-stater as a junior – when he scored 26 goals – Penaloza missed 10 games over five weeks this season after suffering a right knee sprain in his team’s first home game against rival Holland Christian. But his scoring touch was fully returned by playoff time. He ended the season with eight goals and nine assists, but with six goals and four of those assists over seven postseason games. Holland was one of three first-time champions at this year’s Finals, and has become known locally over the last few seasons for breaking team huddles with a “Los Dutch” shout – a unifying nod to the various ethnicities of its players. Penaloza – a fan of Real Madrid and Pumas of the Mexican league – moved to Holland from California in sixth grade and didn’t play soccer at his new school until friends got him to come out in eighth grade. He joined the high school varsity a year later as a freshman and four years later capped his career with 40 goals and 27 assists.  

As part of his school work, Penaloza attends classes in auto body repair at the Careerline Tech Center in Holland. He had been focused on following that career path, but of late he’s begun considering as well studying entrepreneurship and playing soccer at the college level – with an eye on potentially starting a business after school is done. He said he enjoys hands-on work and being part of the before-and-after process of auto body repair – even as he excels in doing damage to opponents’ chances on the soccer field with his feet.

Coach Greg Ceithaml said: “Jose Penaloza is one of the hardest working players I know, making his success well-earned. He plays with great emotion, and his passion is contagious. I was very upset to see his season truncated by injury, but his persistence and dedication to return to the pitch were inspiring. I was very happy to see him contribute to the team's ultimate success in winning a state championship.”

Performance Point: “It was a feeling that I probably won’t ever be able to describe,” Penaloza said of his championship match goal. “I felt like as soon as I kicked it in it was just such a relief to our team. It gave us the confidence for the whole game. … I feel like once they see me going, that it gives them motivation. As soon as I score, it’s a feeling like, ‘He’s in this game. We’ve got to pick up ours and just do the best to keep that going.’ If I score, they feel like, ‘We’re doing really good. Let’s keep it up. We can do more.’”

Coming back strong: “Having such a great year last year gave me so much more motivation to keep going this year. I wanted to do as much as possible, make everything I could. And then getting hurt gave me a step back. I felt like everything was over at that point. (But) I took my injury really seriously. I did everything I had to … as soon as they gave me treatments and what to do, I did them. It was just more motivation to me to get back on the field and do what I do, what I love best.”

Seen from the sidelines: “Our reaction time, how we start the game, how we react after we or the other team scores. I was just seeing small points (watching while I was injured) where we can increase just by simply talking with our team – some small things we can do to get better. I witnessed it myself. I saw it through my teammates, so once I got back I was like, I can’t be doing what they’re doing. To have a change, you’ve got to be the change. … Almost daily, they were telling me like, ‘Hey, we need you back’ or ‘We wish you were back already. Why can’t you be back?’ So it was giving me motivation to come back. Once I got the news that I was playing, they were really excited about it.”

Great expectations fulfilled: “My class, eighth grade year, we went undefeated. We didn’t have every player we did our senior year, but we picked up some very talented players that helped us through it. When we were eighth graders and went undefeated, we were like, ‘We’re going to win state.’ Our junior year we made it to Regional Finals, so we were kinda expected to make it at least that far this year. And we all had it in mind that we’re not just going to make it this far to end where we did last year, so it gave us more motivation to keep going. The next thing we knew, we were in the state finals.”

Shout out to Los Dutch: “It was just something to get us going. The fact that for so many years, we just said ‘Dutch.’ And then we started saying we’re not just one race; we’re more than one. So when we say ‘Los Dutch,’ I feel like every time we said it, it just brought us together, that we acknowledge all the different races and yeah, we didn’t really care about it. It just brought us together even more. … (To my teammates:) We made it. We’re state champs.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2017-18 honorees:
November 2: Karenna Duffey, Macomb L'Anse Creuse North cross country - Read
October 26: Anika Dy, Traverse City Central golf - Read
October 19: Andrew Zhang, Bloomfield Hills tennis - Read
October 12: Nolan Fugate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central football - Read
October 5: Marissa Ackerman, Munising tennis - Read
September 28: Minh Le, Portage Central soccer - Read
September 21: Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic cross country - Read
September 14: Maddy Chinn, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Holland's Jose Penaloza controls the ball in the midfield during Saturday's Division 2 Final. (Middle) Penaloza is introduced before the championship match.