Cal Poly Women’s Soccer freshmen Camille Lafaix and Kylie Rojas have two things in common. The pair have been teammates since their first year of high school and are now making an instant impact for the Mustangs this season. Lafaix leads the team in points, with four goals and two assists, while Rojas scored a goal in 17 starts as a defender.
“I think we’ve kind of just grown up and adapted into the people we are today with each other,” Lafaix said. “I’m lucky enough to have her by my side, whether it’s on or off the field.”
Lafaix and Rojas have played together since they were freshmen in high school. As members of the San Jose Earthquakes Developmental Academy, they helped the Earthquakes take third place at the United States Soccer Development Academy National Tournament in 2018.
Rojas also won the Foothill League Player of the Year award in 2018-19 after leading Castro Valley High School to the North Coast Section Division I playoffs.
Meanwhile, Lafaix scored 14 goals in 19 matches as the Earthquakes’ captain and also won the 2019 Central Coast Section Player of the Year Award while playing at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose.
Although Lafaix and Rojas played for the same soccer club, the pair said they did not plan to play on the same collegiate soccer team. Of the two, Rojas was the first to commit to Cal Poly during her sophomore year of high school.
When Lafaix committed to Cal Poly later into their sophomore year, Rojas said she cried out tears of joy.
“[Lafaix] texted me and at that moment I think I cried,” Rojas said. “At that time, I was going to spend the next six years with this girl, and I was so happy it was her. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be anybody else.”
Since they began playing for Cal Poly, the two have developed noticeable chemistry with one another on the field. With Lafaix in the midfield and Rojas directly behind her in the back line, the two connect and work off each other consistently.
“It is interesting, you can tell they played club together because they often look for each other,” head coach Alex Crozier said.
The pair said playing for the same club also made for an easier transition to collegiate soccer. Traveling for games and balancing soccer with academic responsibilities was something the duo said they were used to.
In their first season after switching out Earthquake jerseys for Mustang ones, the two are already making a substantial impact for the program.
Lafaix has started all 17 matches this season as an attacking midfielder and has scored a team-high four goals with two assists in the process.
Lafaix also leads the Mustangs in the shots category with 26. Her most productive game came Sept. 15 against Idaho State, in which she scored two goals and and assisted one in a 3-1 Mustang victory.
“I think that Camille has a very important role on the team this year,” Rojas said. “Especially as a freshman, she has definitely pulled her weight and even more.”
Rojas has also pulled her weight for the Mustangs and has appeared in all 12 games this season. Of those 12 matches, Rojas was in the starting lineup for nine of them. The defender has taken part in two shutouts this season in front of senior goalkeeper Sophia Brown.
“I feel like [Rojas], no matter who we are playing, always shows up 110 percent,” Lafaix said. “I think [she] is really consistent — something that is mandatory as a defender, especially coming in as a freshman.”
Rojas registered eight shots this season and even scored her first collegiate goal in a tight 2-1 win against Pepperdine on Sept. 6.
“That was the best feeling ever, because as a defender I do not usually score,” Rojas said. “At the moment, I kind of surprised myself.”
Although the two players are producing at high standards, both have had to adapt to some of the different aspects of collegiate soccer.
One significant challenge is an age difference among freshmen and their opponents, who can be up to four or five years older. Lafaix and Rojas are also listed as 5-feet-2-inches and 5-feet-1-inch respectively, which places them on the shorter end of the team.
“I feel like when I play, it’s like what [Lafaix] said, it’s more of a mental switch … You have to know and be sure you’re going to win [the ball] or else they’re just going to run right over you,” Rojas said.
Defenders listed at lower heights usually prompt a “red flag” with regard to recruiting, according to Crozier. However, Crozier said Rojas proved she can handle anything on the field because of her smart style of play and fast-paced, offensive qualities.
“With our freshmen class every year, you never really know what you’re going to get,” Crozier said. “[Lafaix and Rojas] came in and started playing right away … They just play. They love playing and you can see that in their game.”
As of Tuesday, Oct. 22, Lafaix and Rojas have just four games remaining in their first conference season as Mustangs. The Mustangs are in a must-win position if they plan on making a run to postseason competition. All four matches remaining are against teams that are ranked higher than the Mustangs in the Big West standings.