Every successful team has a player who can take over a game at the snap of a finger when the team needs him or her most. Real Madrid has Cristiano Ronaldo, Alex Morgan is the X-factor for the U.S. Women’s National Team and the Bombers’ women’s soccer team looks to junior forward Kelsey King.
King has been on a tear in her third year on the South Hill, finishing the regular season with 12 goals and five assists through 16 games. This follows her 14-goal outburst last year in 22 games. With the playoffs on the horizon for the Bombers, King is looking at exceeding her goal total from last year and has already reached her personal record for assists in a season.
Her high motor and steadfast work ethic make her effective on the field, head coach Mindy Quigg said.
“She’s tenacious,” she said. “She just brings it every single day. Every play, every day, Kelsey’s going hard.”
She described King as savvy and technically sound with the ball at her feet, getting forward quickly and making instinctual decisions that would cause hesitation in other players.
Junior goalkeeper Beth Coppolecchia echoed Quigg’s words when talking about King’s attitude and commitment to playing hard.
“I think a lot of her success has come from her hard work during practice and each game,” she said. “When we’re down a goal, she’s always the one to bring the positive attitude and give everything she can to try and score a goal. She has been amazing thus far, and I know she’s only going to continue to do well throughout postseason.”
In some games this year, Quigg said, the opposing team would dedicate one or more players solely to shadowing King on the field to try to restrict her impact on the game, because when they give her the slightest amount of room, she has proven that she can do whatever she pleases with the ball at her foot.
“It can be really frustrating, because it limits what I can do,” King said. “I have less time, less space, to do all the things that I usually like to do. It’s an adjustment that I’ve had to make over this season especially. I’m just kind of getting used to it, but it just makes me play different.”
With opponents trying to shut the door on King’s scoring, it opens another one for her teammates. King’s assists are up by four and counting this year, and she credits that in part to the extra attention she has been receiving on the field.
“I think maybe it comes from having that extra pressure and extra defense on me,” she said. “It opens up other people, and I can play them that quick ball so that they can get the opportunity.”
Quigg also attributes this increase to King’s development as a more well-rounded player.
“She plays so much more with her head up now, which makes her more of a threat,” she said. “She creates so much for other people, not just because people are swarming to her to defend her, but because she creates. She distributes the ball extremely well.”
King’s importance to the squad does not stop at her offensive production and team-leading statistics, however. Coppolecchia said King’s communication and leadership have aided the team’s success.
“She is one of the biggest leaders on our team, and especially for the offense,” Coppolecchia said. “Throughout the game she’s consistently communicating to everyone and keeping the energy high.”
Quigg said King’s maturity has a big impact on the team’s mentality, and her experience will be a factor in their playoff run.
“What she does on the field is amazing, but her maturity is equally important,” Quigg said. “She’s a leader on the field, she’s a leader off the field, she’s vocal, she’s a leader by her actions, a leader by her words.”
With the postseason drawing near and another year on the horizon for King, Quigg said she is glad to be on the same sideline as the goal-scoring midfielder.
“We’re fortunate that she’s a Bomber for sure,” she said. “We wouldn’t want to play against her.”