A key element for a good goal keeper is to be active. And no one has to tell Kelly Schmidt to be active.
If anything, the Princeton keeper is active. She’s active on the soccer pitch and in school in general, participating in volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, dance, band, choir, student council, and a whole lot more at PHS when she’s not knocking down soccer balls.
The Tigresses (13-10-1) did not win a game this year without Schmidt recording a shutout. They won 13 games and had 14 shutouts, including a 0-0 tie vs. Coal City, coming up one short of matching the school record.
For her efforts, Schmidt is the 2014 BCR Soccer Player of the Year. She is the first keeper to catch these honors since Kirsten Andersen of PHS won in 2008.
“Kelly is the complete student-athlete. A great person with a high level of commitment,” PHS coach Ed Young said. “That’s her true character, a testimony of who she is. That just rolls over into being a good keeper and leader.
“(The honor) is very deserving. She drove this team and shaped this team.”
Schmidt started playing soccer at about age 4 or 5 when she lived in the suburbs, but decided she didn’t really like it that much and quit playing. It was not until the fifth grade when she moved to Princeton that she started playing again. Still, she was not overly thrilled about the overall concept of the game, running, and that’s when she turned to goal keeping.
“I’ve always wanted to play keeper, mainly because I absolutely hate running,” she said.
It wasn’t until the eighth grade she got to play the position extensively. She had a setback shortly in to her freshmen year when she had to wear a walking cast for corrective issues.
The last two years, Schmidt flourished on goal for the Tigresses, seeing time behind Ellen Andersen her sophomore year. She has one mindset when she’s on goal ingrained by keeper coach Kurt Garvin — “Get your hands to the ball.”
“You want to make every possible effort to make the save and don’t give up on a play,” she said.
However, she knows she can’t get her hands on all of them.
“For me, the hardest part is remembering that you can’t save everything,” she said. “It can be really easy to sort of beat yourself up especially in the middle of a game when the other team is scoring, but once the ball is in the back of the net the play is over and you’ve got to learn from what happened and then move on.”
She’s worked closely with her friends on defense, including senior defender Liz Stites, junior Ellie Bonucci, sophomore Michaela Strom and freshman Ellise Piper.
“It says something about our team. We have some quality players. Through Kelly’s leadership in the back, we can be pretty tough,” Young said. “It’s pretty cool we can rise to the occasion. It’s nice to get those tight ones. Says something who we are.”
The best part of her job as keeper is having the best seat in the house for the action on the field.
“I love that from my position on the field, I can see the play develop and see the opportunities that my teammates are making,” she said.
She’s really never seriously gave any thought about playing any other position.
“I was joking around with coach Young last year telling him I was going to be a halfback instead of a keeper. But, I love my position. the field players’ jobs are too hard for me,” Schmidt said.
After all, she’s quite the keeper.
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