Boler's stability helps Sailors

Shannon Boler is a master in the back for the Newport Harbor High girls' soccer team.

Now all Boler needs to do is to master the art of doing a pull-up.

The senior wants to play soccer in college, and a couple of the schools she's looking at are Air Force and the Virginia Military Institute.

Most of the Sailors do push-ups in practice. When Boler loses a two-on-two drill, Coach Larry Draluck now has Boler do pull-ups.

"I was kind of surprised," Boler said. "He took me over to the goal post and he made me try to do a pull-up, but obviously I couldn't do one. He had to lift me up and make me do it. For the last couple of days, whenever my team loses or we have to do a punishment, I have to do pull-ups."

Coach and player know the pull-ups will come in handy when Boler needs to take the fitness test for Air Force. But, in terms of her play, she has been pulling up the defense of the Sailors for three years now from her center fullback position.

It was evident last week when the Sailors stunned defending Sunset League champion Edison, 1-0, in overtime. It was a great way for the Sailors to open league, and Boler helped lead the defensive stand.

"She's strong, she's a ball-winner, she's a good distributor," Draluck said. "She prevents a lot of opportunities for the opponent."

She is well-rounded on the pitch. That extends to academics, where Boler carries a 3.8 grade-point average.

If you haven't figured it out by now, she's also tough. Her favorite movie is "Gladiator." Last summer, she tried kickboxing as a way to stay in shape.

Draluck just knows she's a great defender. Boler said he's the one who put her at that position in the first place, when he coached her in club for the Southern California Blues when Boler was 12.

"At first I didn't really like it," said Boler, who played forward and midfielder in her AYSO and early club years. "When I started playing defender in high school, sophomore year, I got used to it. Now I can't really imagine playing a different position. It's where I feel more comfortable now."

Newport Harbor feels comfortable with Boler back there, too, specifically with the type of ball-control offense that the Sailors like to run. Last year, she helped Newport Harbor make the CIF playoffs for the first time in six years.

This year, she's really the only one left on the back line. The Sailors lost key defenders to graduation, players such as Beth Barnard, Christie Ohlhaver and the Storch twins, Madeline and Stephanie. In the preseason this year, they lost standout outside fullback Courtney McIntosh, a senior, to a torn ACL.

Earlier this year the defense lost another projected starter, freshman Brooke Zachry, also to a torn ACL. Boler's stability has been more important than ever.

Sophomore Rosalie Deliz plays center back with Boler in the Sailors' "flat back" (four defenders straight across instead of staggered) formation. Newport also has senior Jennifer Munoz — who played midfielder last year — and senior Brenda Perez on defense.

"I think it's been interesting," Boler said. "Our outside backs never really played defense, they're more midfielders and attacking players. It's not been bad. They're all good players, and they're all working hard and focused at getting better and making defense work for them."

One thing the youth in the back has done is it's prevented Draluck from moving Boler up the field on occasion. But she has gotten more involved in other ways; now she's one of the team's main players who takes free kicks.

Boler will do whatever it takes to help the team. It's another thing Draluck likes about her. He said at times she can settle the game down.

"She plays the game the way I see it being played," Draluck said. "She's very skillful. She looks to pass, more than do her own thing. She makes everyone else look good ... [but] currently she has a lot of responsibility for the success of the team."

The game is nothing new to Boler, who plays club for the Irvine Strikers. She began playing soccer when she was 4 . Growing up she remembers watching the games of her older brother Derek, who also played soccer at Newport Harbor before graduating in 2009. He also played defense, but on the outside.

"As we got older, a lot of times we would go out in the backyard and kick the ball around," Shannon Boler said. "Around sophomore year, I started questioning whether or not I wanted to play in college. He definitely would tell me, 'You're talented and I think you should keep going.' He supported me, and pushed me to try to pursue that."

First things first. Another good showing in league would be nice for the Sailors, but they suffered a 3-1 loss at Marina on Tuesday. But the way Boler sees it, Newport Harbor definitely can surprise some more teams in league.

"That [Edison] game, everyone was working really hard," she said. "I think everyone really wanted to win, being at home and the first [league] game. We wanted to prove that we're a good team. Even though we have a lot of young players, we can step up."

Boler will continue to step up for the Sailors.

And, yeah, she's working on pulling up, too.


Shannon Boler

Born: Dec. 14, 1993

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 5- feet 7

Sport: Soccer

Coach: Larry Draluck

Favorite food: Italian

Favorite movie: "Gladiator"

Favorite athletic moment: Helping Newport Harbor upset Saugus on the road, 2-1, in a CIF Southern Section Division I first-round playoff match last year.

Week in review: Boler's defense helped Newport Harbor upset defending league champion Edison in overtime, 1-0, in a Sunset League opener Jan. 5.

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