Patients that arrived at a Westport physical therapy practice this summer often thought they were seeing double when they reached the front desk.
That is the normal reaction, more so when anyone spends just a little time with inseparable sisters Mia and Gaby Gonzalez, who appropriately even shared the same job the past few months. The duo anchored the middle of the defense for the Staples girls soccer team the previous two seasons, helping to lead the Wreckers last fall to the FCIAC title.
Now, with Gaby’s verbal commitment to Cornell last week, the two may get the opportunity to share a backfield again in two years. Mia departed last weekend to begin her freshman year at the school.
“Cornell has always been in my blood,” Gaby said. “I visited it so many times and I loved the campus. I definitely kept my options open. In the recruiting process I talked to a bunch of schools but ultimately in the end my heart just went back to Cornell. I felt it was the best fit for me as a person and as a player. I wanted to pursue my soccer and academic experience there.”
Those sentiments roused memories for Mia.
“Cornell has always been my dream school for as long as I can remember,” Mia said. “I put all my eggs into that basket because I knew from day one that I wanted to go there, so I almost made it my mission to go there. When I went to the campus the first time I absolutely fell in love. I really did see myself there because the academics are outstanding and to compete at that level of elite soccer would truly be a dream come true. I’ve wanted Cornell since before I was a freshman.”
If the Gonzalezes come across as having had a long-term obsession with Cornell, well, they have. Their parents, Jodi and Jack, graduated from the school. Jack played on the men’s soccer team.
“I remember I had my 10th birthday party at a Cornell men’s soccer game,” Mia said with a smile. “As soon as I got the offer I burst out in tears. I was hysterically crying. It was a dream come true. It was everything that I wanted and everything I had been working for.”
Last year the Wreckers rolled into the state semifinals unbeaten, with a pair of regular season ties. Staples had allowed just eight goals before conceding one in the 80th minute in a 1-0 loss to Glastonbury, denying it a third straight trip to the Class LL final.
If the FCIAC awarded a most valuable player award, Mia would have been a strong candidate. She was well complemented on the back line by Gaby, resulting in a run of seven straight shutouts and 10 in the final 11 games of the regular season.
“One of the reasons I think it worked so well for us is we are so close,” Mia said. “I really don’t know two other sisters as close as Gaby and I are. We are 18 months apart but we literally could be in the same grade. She’s my best friend. That’s how close we are. That really helped coming onto the field. It just worked.”
Added Gaby, “It was more than being sisters, we had chemistry. We had strengths in different areas.”
The sisters over three attempts could not think of examples outside of soccer how they are similar, ultimately realizing there really aren’t any differences.
“We are just crazy, crazy together,” Gaby said. “Our friends would say that. We’re bouncing off the walls, laughing, smiling. That energy is really important and it shows on the soccer field the tight bond we have together. Almost every aspect of our life, we do it together.”
They will be doing it apart for much of the next two years. Because the Ivy League canceled fall sports, Mia will have a rare offseason. Gaby is hoping the Wreckers will get a chance to defend their title. For now, the CIAC season is on.
“It’s definitely bittersweet, but now that she’s going there in a couple of years, she’s going to get a glimpse of what her life is like there,” Mia said. “I have never been away from her for so long. I’ll see her soon and we will talk so much.
“Hopefully we can bring our success from Staples to Cornell. Hopefully we can win the Ivy title together.”