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Kicking into high gear

Erik Boal

Playing for the Hoover High girls’ soccer team isn’t easy.

Especially when you’re Kristal Phillips.

Especially when you demand so much of your teammates, and even

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more of yourself. And especially when you’re used to competing on a

club team with a handful of Division I college prospects.

So as Phillips sat on a bench at Hoover reflecting on her junior

season, she chose her words carefully.

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She didn’t want to sound cocky, and didn’t want to put her

teammates or the program down. But she said what everybody else had

already known.

“This was a hard year,” she said.

It was also a season that helped Phillips mature on and off the

field.

A lot was asked of Phillips.

The junior standout had to be a leader, a scorer and an on-field

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general. And to top it off, she had to help first-year Coach Saran

Atwal manage a roster that included a number of inexperienced

players.

It’s for these reasons that Phillips was unanimously chosen by the

writers and editors of the Burbank Leader and News-Press as the

All-Area Player of the Year.

Phillips’ exceptional season nearly didn’t materialize.

She didn’t want to play for the Tornadoes because she had seen

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firsthand how the program had mightily struggled -- posting a

combined 23-59-8 record, 8-40-2 in the Pacific League in the previous

five seasons -- and she didn’t want to put herself in that position

again.

And she was accustomed to playing for West Valley Samba in the

Coast Soccer girls’ Under-19 Premier League, which is regarded as the

best club team in the state, if not the nation, and competing at the

high school level didn’t entice Phillips.

Her mom convinced her otherwise.

Blanca Phillips persuaded her 17-year-old daughter to help reshape

the Hoover program.

“I knew it would be good for her just to go out and play hard,”

Blanca said. “She loves soccer and I wanted her to have fun.”

Phillips -- who missed half of her freshman year with a sprained

right ankle and all of her sophomore year rehabilitating a torn

anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee -- taught her teammates

by example. Her return sparked Hoover (10-10-3, 3-4-3 in league) to

its first playoff appearance in program history.

Despite the Tornadoes’ loss to Ventura Buena, 11-0, in the first

round of the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs, Phillips was

still proud.

“I think we accomplished a lot,” said Phillips, who led all area

players with 19 goals and 50 points. “We went out there and tried our

best.”

Opposing coaches also saw the imprint left by Phillips, an All-CIF

second-team selection.

“She brings a lot of fire to the team,” said Crescenta Valley

Coach Reggie Rivas, whose squad rallied from a 1-0 deficit -- on a

goal scored by Phillips -- to beat the Tornadoes, 2-1, in the waning seconds Jan. 21.

“She’s a big inspiration to the players. “She just works hard. She

is the type of player that works until her legs fall off. Seeing her

work that hard brings the best out of everyone. It brings the best

out of her team and out of our team.”

“This was a different year for Kristal,” Blanca said.

Translation: Phillips matured -- a lot.

“Kristal sometimes gives up and gets frustrated,” Blanca said. “In

high school, you get more frustrated because it’s not a club team.

“But this year, Kristal was able to handle everything really well.

I was so surprised. That was a real, real difference in Kristal.”

Kristal couldn’t agree more.

By being Ms. Everything for Hoover, Phillips learned to appreciate

the hard work put in by coaches. She realized what needed to be done

to achieve success.

And she discovered that a little extra effort can go a long way

for a program attempting to revamp its image.

*

2002-2003 BURBANK LEADER All-AREA TEAM Girls’ Soccer

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

KRISTAL PHILLIPS* JR.

HOOVER * MIDFIELDER

* Accounted for 31 of her team’s 35 goals.

* Tied for area lead with 19 goals.

* Led all area players with 50 points.

* All-Pacific League first-team selection.

* All-CIF Southern Section Division II second-team honoree.

* Guided Hoover, which finished 10-10-2, 3-4-3 in league, to first

playoff appearance in program’s history.

* One of only five players to score against every team in league.

* Plays for West Valley Samba in the Coast Soccer girls’ Under-19

Premier League, which is regarded as the best club team in state, if

not the nation.

* Is a top player in softball as a shortstop.

SECOND TEAM

To see what local players made it on to the Leader All-Area girls’

soccer second team, please see,

Page A19

ALL-AREA SECOND TEAM

*--*

NAME SCHOOL YEAR POSITION

Allie Bengtsson CV Senior Forward

Caroline Chrzan Burbank Freshman Forward

Michelle Drugan La Canada Freshman Midfielder

Heather Francis Glendale Junior Defender

Amber Horwith CV Senior Forward

Katie Jorgensen Hoover Senior Midfielder

Erin Marshall Fl. Sac. Heart Junior Sweeper

Betsy McGovern Fl. Sac. Heart Junior Goalkeeper

Patty Lynn Mitchell CV Senior Midfielder

Katrina Payne Fl. Sac. Heart Junior Defender

Jessica Sloan CV Senior Defender

*--*


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