Though it’s been more than a year since Cal women’s soccer saw playing time, one standout player hasn’t let her senior season (or lack thereof) get in the way of future ambitions.
Former attacking midfielder Luca Deza will make her debut appearance with Sevilla FC on Jan. 6, nearly one month after signing with the club in December 2020. As the 28th former Bear to go pro, Deza joins some elite company, headlined by the likes of Alex Morgan, Joy Fawcett and Abi Kim.
“I am extremely excited to take this next step in my football career. Being a professional football player is a dream I have had ever since I can remember,” Deza said in a text message. “When choosing where to play next I wanted to make sure I was in an environment that was not only extremely challenging and uncomfortable but motivating.”
As it currently stands, Sevilla FC sits comfortably within the Primera División — Spain’s highest level of competition for women’s football. Renowned powerhouses such as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid are among the regularly scheduled competitors of Deza’s new team.
“Not only is the level of football here amazing but style of play was extremely important for me when making this decision,” Deza said in the text message. “I wanted to play for a team that valued the brand of football I enjoy playing in Tiki Taka football and we aim to do that here.”
Tiki-taka, which loosely translates to “touch-touch,” is a style of play most commonly used in Spanish football. It emphasizes maintaining possession of the ball, as well as short passing and constant movement, to create openings within the defense.
To fit Deza in comfortably with the current roster, Sevilla FC’s coaching staff is assigning her to either a midfielder or right/left back position — a change of pace for a player who has typically led offensive game plans in the past.
“My personal goals for this team this year are to debut and be able to make the biggest impact I possibly can,” Deza added in the text message. “Along with this, my goal is to give 100% to the team in whichever position the coach decides to put me in.”
During her time with the blue and gold, Deza was a preeminent star from the onset. She frequented Edwards Stadium as a freshman, starting 11 games out of 19 appearances on the field. From leading the Bears in assists to finishing third on the team for overall points, Deza quickly earned her stripes and was named to the Pac-12’s 2017 All-Freshman team.
“Being at Cal and playing in the Pac-12 has prepared me substantially for my next step to being a professional,” Deza said in the text message. “Big games, especially against Stanford, USC and UCLA, all gave me a taste of what it is like to compete at the highest level.”
Over the course of her sophomore season, Deza continued to dazzle as one of Cal’s top goal scorers. She was one of seven Bears to tally multiple goals — including a game-winner against Oregon State — and added on a Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention to her growing list of accolades.
As a junior, in what now becomes her final season, Deza capped off her decorated collegiate career by finishing second on the team in both scoring and points, earning herself an All-Region honor from the United Soccer Coaches, a Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week award and a spot on the All-Pac-12 second team.
“I especially want to thank my teammates for their continuous support and the coaching staff for believing in me from the beginning. I’d also like to thank every professor, my family and of course, the amazing friends that I have made while at Cal,” Deza said in the text message. “I hope to remain humble and hungry and make the Cal family proud! Go Bears.”
Ryan Chien covers women’s soccer. Contact him at [email protected].