WPFC Alumna selected 2009 Narrows League MVP
There are people who reflexively make life better for those around them – and when one of those people is a center-back on a league-champion soccer team and one of those for whom life is made better is her coach, it might not be surprising to hear the coach say, “I think she is the best player in the league.”
Joe Waters, the Bellarmine Prep coach who had a 23-year professional soccer career, does not toss these kinds of compliments around lightly. And a check with some opposing Narrows League coaches yields no tweaking of the appraisal.
Kaitlyn Pavlovich is the best soccer player in the Narrows League and certainly one of the main reasons the Lions have won the league title, yet again, and are poised for a run at the state title.
“She has all the skills – two good feet, speed, anticipation, a great understanding of the game,” Waters begins. And before he is finished cataloging Pavlovich’s qualities, her height – she stands six-feet tall – is emphasized.
“That is an asset we have been able to take advantage of down around our goal on corner kicks,” Waters says. With Pavlovich parked in front of one of the goal posts on corner kicks, it is a nightmare for opposing defenders and she has had her fair share of assists and scores this season.
A nice evolution from the time she was a 3-year old kid who played for a team called Micro Thunder.
But as formidable a presence as Pavlovich is in front of her own goal, it is at the other end of the field where the Bellarmine star is located most of the game, playing sweeper and quarterbacking the team’s defense.
“It is so comfortable being on the field with Kaitlyn. Knowing she is back there gives us a lot of freedom,” says teammate Alison Rogel, a midfielder who has played soccer with Pavlovich since they were 12.
“She’s a great player, but more than that she is a great person with tremendous leadership abilities.”
From the back end of the field, Pavlovich utilizes what her teammates and coaches call a great mind for the game and keeps the defense organized in front of her and goalie Briana Carlin.
Teammate Taylor Swenson, also a senior who has started for four years at Bellarmine and has played with Pavlovich on the Washington Premier club team, is in such awe of her teammate that she answers most questions about her with, “I don’t know how to answer that.” Meaning, some stuff is so excellent, it just can’t be put into words.
“I’m sorry,” Swenson says sincerely. “There is just no way to explain how good she is.”
There are no statistics kept for how effectively a center-back plays or how much easier she makes everything for her teammates, but there is a correlation between the quality of her abilities and which colleges offer a scholarship.
In Pavlovich’s case, she has accepted a scholarship to Arizona State.
“I am very excited about that,” she says. “I had a goal to go to a good Division I program. From there, I am just going to see where soccer takes me.”
Waters says if Pavlovich keeps working the way she has, there is no limit.
As for now, she wants to bring as much recognition to her school as she can.
“The big thing for us, to go as far as we can, is that we have to come out for every game with a lot of energy. We’ve got a little bit of a rap as a second-half team. Getting the team pumped up and excited for the games this year is one thing that I have been trying to do. With energy and excitement for each game, this team is able to pretty much accomplish whatever they want,” she says.
She says she has not really given any thought to last year’s stinging defeat by Skyline in the state tournament.
“I can hardly remember what happened two weeks ago,” she says. “But of course we took something from that game. We have to come out with a lot of energy and be ready to play.”
Bellarmine’s only loss this season was to South Kitsap, a team it eventually nudged out of first place because of the Wolves two ties.
“That game was a good lesson in humility for us,” Pavlovich says. “We are a confident team, and you have to be, but we got a little ahead of ourselves.”
With speed up front, led by Stephanie Hamilton, and the size and experience in the back, Bellarmine goes into this week’s league tournament aiming for a top seed in the district tournament.
Opponents should perish the thought that the Lions will be lacking any energy in their league and district matches.
“We’re all aware of that and I’ll keep talking about it before every game,” she says.
And she’ll be in position once the game begins to buoy that effort with the skill and leadership of the best player in the league.
Tacoma Weekly Sports Writer, Rick Walter