After taking two years off from soccer, Isabel Lopez’s return for Reavis turns into slam dunk. ‘It just got easier.’

After playing soccer as a freshman, Reavis’ Isabel Lopez gave up the sport to focus on basketball. She turned into a star on the court, becoming the South Suburban Red’s player of the year this past winter, and plans to play basketball in college.

But Lopez longed to play soccer again. She decided to return for one more season this spring.

“I decided to come back because not only did I miss the team chemistry but I just missed being on the soccer field itself,” Lopez said. “I figured it was my last year, my last chance, why not?”

Lopez, a senior forward, has returned with a vengeance. The team’s leading scorer, she tallied her 16th goal of the season Tuesday, leading the host Rams to a 2-0 South Suburban Red win over Shepard in Burbank.

Alyssa Juarez also scored for the Rams (10-8-1, 7-2). Jasmine Juache and Isabella Lopez — no relation to Isabel — each had an assist. Delyanna Arocho made six saves for the shutout.

Lily Stamos had five saves for Shepard (2-11-1, 2-5-1).

Isabel Lopez was not quite sure what to expect when she made her return to the soccer field. She said she “pretty much gave it up completely” for two years, not even playing on the side for fun.

“At first, I was a little worried,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh, do I even still have it?’ Once I stepped back onto the field, it came back a little quicker than I thought it would.

“Then it just got easier as I kept playing.”

Lopez needed less than three minutes to score Tuesday, racing down the right side of the field and ripping in a tough-angle shot off an assist from Isabella Lopez.

It was the kind of spark Isabel has been providing all season, according to Reavis coach Konrad Dziedzic.

“She’s putting herself in great positions to score,” Dziedzic said. “She’s the true striker we were missing the last couple years, so having her back is a huge boost for our team offensively.”

Dziedzic had his fingers crossed for a return but wasn’t sure what to expect.

“She had said she’d come back and play her senior year, but I wasn’t really counting on it,” he said. “I was planning around it, and I figured if we got her, that’s a surplus.

“That’s what we’ve got, and it’s perfect.”

Isabel Lopez is thankful her teammates have welcomed her back with open arms.

“I figured it was going to be a little rough,” she said. “I didn’t know if I was going to start right away or not. I didn’t want to come in and step on anyone’s toes, but at the end of the day, there are no hard feelings.

“Everybody just plays their part, and I’m glad I get to play mine.”

Arocho, a sophomore goalkeeper who has been impressive in the net in her first high school soccer season, is sure glad to have Lopez on her side.

“She helps the team a lot,” Arocho said. “She steps up to the plate. When we need a goal, she’s there. She scores for us.”

Dziedzic said the biggest challenge for Lopez was regaining a feel for the game.

“In terms of her skill, it was still there,” Dziedzic said. “But in terms of soccer IQ, she had to get used to the speed of the game again and knowing where to be. Once she got used to it, she adapted really quickly.”

Lopez is sure glad she decided to play soccer one more time.

“Soccer is something different,” she said. “It’s something I’ve always enjoyed. Before I started playing basketball in junior high, soccer was my main focus and I wanted to go to college for soccer.

“So, it’s just fun being back. I enjoy being on the pitch.”