Jamie Kirkland has discovered quite a bit about herself over the years on the soccer field, one being she thoroughly enjoys a showdown.
In the rare instance the senior goalkeeper for Silver Creek finds herself alone against an opposing striker who has worked behind her defense, Kirkland relishes the chance to thwart each and every opportunity.
“It’s a combination of slightly terrifying, but at the same time it’s kind of cool because it is just you and that one other player,” Kirkland said. “What makes it fun is to be able to go at them and take out their feet. I have the advantage being able to jump on (the ball).
“Hopefully I don’t get in too many of those situations, but I don’t mind them.”
The aggressive approach to keeping the net pristine is one of the reasons why the Raptors should feel fairly secure about their chances to make a run at the Northern League title this year.
In 2013, her first season as the starting goalie for Silver Creek, Kirkland was the author of eight shutouts as SCHS went 9-3-3 and reached the Class 4A playoffs. As a result, she earned all-conference honors and all-region accolades from BoCoPreps.com, too.
Kirkland admits she isn’t a prototypical keeper, being somewhat on the smaller side. But she has tremendous leaping ability — she has been a high-jumper for the track team — and lateral speed.
What might even help her more between the posts, though, is what’s between her ears.
“She’s very physically talented but she is also just a very savvy soccer player, and she can get attackers to play to her and also knows how to set up our defense,” said coach Pat Monacelli. “The kid is as bright as they come, and that is a tremendous asset for us out on the field. All that makes for a high rate of success.”
“I’ve played the game for a long time, so I feel like I can read how a play is going to go,” added Kirkland. “I like to be a few steps ahead, so that I can be planning on where I want to direct the defense to prevent a shot. If that shot does come … I think I can instinctively tell kind of where it’s going to go.
“One thing I want to focus on this year is taking on more of a leadership role. I feel like I really need to step up and … bring the team together.”
With Kirkland the last bit of defense, there is quite a bit of trust in the team’s back line play as 2014 approaches, while at the same time confidence that the Raptors can score some more goals. Of the 15 games the Raptors played last year, they scored two or fewer goals in 11 of those.
Jenna Schemmel, an all-conference player who led the team with 14 goals while adding seven assists, returns for her junior season as the go-to attacker, but Sage Feiner and Bayly Hermann were another pair of young players who found the net frequently last season.
Katy Foster adds yet another scoring threat.
“We were very young last year, so luckily for us that means we have pretty much the same team,” said junior defender Kaari Von Bernuth, a team captain. “I think we have the ability to score as many goals as last year, but we are going to have to work hard and keep improving.
“Our formation is super dynamic, so in order for it to work we have to constantly be moving and passing. There’s no time to hold the ball.”
“As many low scoring games as we had, we still scored more than we had in any of the three or four previous years,” Monacelli said. “I was happy with our scoring, really. You go into (league) games knowing if you put one or two goals in and play a solid defensive game, you’re going to have a chance to win.”
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