Girls Varsity Soccer · Sophia Young: Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year

How highly did Burlingame girls’ soccer coach Phillip DeRosa think of senior goalkeeper Sophia Young?

He didn’t have a legitimate backup goalkeeper. DeRosa went to a couple of the better athletes on the team and told them they would be filling in for Young if the need ever arose.

“We made a contingency plan. I have a pair of (extra goalie) gloves in my bag. Just go in there and be athletic,” DeRosa said. “[Starting goalkeeper] was one position I absolutely never had to worry about.”

And to think the Panthers were this close to not having Young for her senior year. She said her main objective was to be committed to a college program before the start of the season. If not, she was prepared to just play the club soccer season and the various showcases.

In October, she committed to Lewis & Clark University in Willamette, Oregon. She made a concerted effort to accomplish that.

“I wanted to play with Burlingame,” Young said. “I really wanted to play my senior year.”

It’s a good thing she did because she helped lead the Panthers to a storybook season. Playing nearly every minute of every game the previous three seasons, it was a foregone conclusion Young would be between the posts again this season. With stingy defensive line and Young anchoring the back, the Panthers went on to post an overall record of 14-5-6, with Young recording a goals against average of 0.76, having allowed 19 goals in 25 games. She posted 11 clean sheets and helped guide Burlingame to its third Central Coast Section title, first since 2009, as well as a spot Northern California Division III championship game.

All of which led to her be chosen as the Daily Journal Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year.

“I feel like 11 shutouts is pretty good, just considering how hard it was for us to score,” Young said.

The fact the Panthers managed to score only 40 goals this season (0.6 goals per game) meant there was a lot more pressure on Young, which she handled with aplomb. She allowed two goals or less in 22 of 24 games played (the Panther got a forfeit win over Scotts Valley). She allowed three goals in her two other starts, including in the Nor Cal championship game against Montgomery.

“This kid just has an innate ability to know where the ball is going,” DeRosa said. “And you can’t teach that.”

When opponents did score, other than the frustration of giving one up, Young was philosophical about it.

“Most the goals that do get in are really challenging and no one could have got them,” Young said. “After they score, I think what I could have done differently.”

Added DeRosa: “So many of those goals (allowed), were not goalkeeping mistakes. In terms of making goalkeeping mistakes, I never saw it.”

If anything, Young more than made up for goals allowed by standing tall in penalty kick situations. Three times this season, the Panthers had a game decided by PKs — winning all three. The first came in the preseason Firebird Tournament hosted by Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, when she stopped all three attempts she faced against Sacred Heart Prep.

The stakes were much higher in her final two shootouts — the CCS semifinals against Sacred Heart Cathedral and the finals against Menlo School. In the semis, the Irish managed to get only one past her. Against the Knights, she stopped two shots.

“I just go with what my gut said,” Young said.