Kacie Kline seems to perfectly fit into her different roles on the Corona del Mar High girls' lacrosse team.
The senior is an aggressive player, which makes her perfect for the position known simply as "attack." Kline, who wears No. 3, is exceeding that number in terms of goals per game. She leads the Sea Kings with 42 goals this season.
But Kline's leadership is just as valuable off the field. She takes her role as a captain very seriously, especially on a young CdM team that features five freshmen, many of whom play important roles.
Kline knows what it's like to play on varsity as a freshman. When she did it three years ago, she couldn't help but be intimidated. First, she had to make the team, and even that wasn't a given. Kline picked the sport up quickly after starting in eighth grade with the Newport Wedge program, but making varsity was a whole different animal.
Coach Aly Simons named the team over time during tryouts. One day, now-senior Sabrina "Bean" Smith made the team, but Kline did not hear her name called. She couldn't help but feel discouraged. Torrey Attyah, then a junior on the team, offered encouragement.
"We went to get dinner that night, after 'Bean' had made it," Kline said. "[Attyah] told me, 'Keep working as hard as you are, and I promise that good things will happen.' The next day at practice I gave it my all. I wanted it so badly, and then [Simons] called my name that day."
Now the senior captain, Kline pays it forward along with the other three CdM senior captains, Sabrina Smith, Kendall Mulvaney and Jamie Smith. Kline calls the three girls her best friends, but she also has gone out of her way to make sure the freshmen feel welcome as well.
Before last week's big Pacific Coast League game against Beckman, Simons gave "partners" to members of the team. Kline's partner was a freshman, Kendall's sister Kennedy Mulvaney.
"We wrote each other notes, and you talk to them on the bus," Kline said. "I think what's so important about it is the chemistry that you make ... This is the closest team I've been on, and it really does show on the field. As a freshman on the team, I was always scared of the seniors. That was one of our main things this year, to make sure that everyone feels on an equal level, regardless of age. I think we've done well at that so far."
The numbers were not in the Sea Kings' favor against Beckman, which came into the game as the top-ranked team in Orange County and No. 4 in Southern California by laxpower.com. CdM was No. 10 in both rankings.
But Kline and the Sea Kings took it to Beckman, storming to an 11-4 halftime lead. Kline was her usual aggressive self, helping CdM open up the lead by scoring four of her game-high six goals in the first 15 minutes of the contest.
"Kacie has always been very attack focused," Simons said. "I feel really confident with the ball in her stick, just because I know that she's confident out there."
When it was all over, the Sea Kings had earned a 15-11 upset victory. Beckman, which won the league title outright last year, usually dominates in league. But now it's CdM (8-3, 6-0 in league) in a position the program has never been in before — alone in first place.
There are still four league games left, but CdM can most likely clinch the first outright league title in program history by winning at Beckman on April 28. Two years ago, the teams shared the league title. That was the year that CdM, as the No. 7 seed, made an upset run to the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division title match.
But big wins for the Sea Kings, increasingly, can be considered "upsets" less and less.
"We know that [making the title game] is something that we can accomplish as the CdM program," Kline said. "Since that time, we have had so many more girls wanting to play lacrosse. Last year was the first time we had three teams. We never had a frosh-soph team until last year. It's made our program that much better ... it's getting better and better every year. I can't wait to see what it's going to be like, you know, in five years."
Kline also has been getting better and better. She was second on the team in scoring last year to then-senior Molly Rovzar, who now plays at the University of Colorado Boulder. Kline also had aspirations of playing in college, at least initially.
In her first two years at CdM she played club for XTeam, traveling to the East Coast for tournaments. But eventually, she decided that NCAA college lacrosse probably wasn't in her plans. She stopped playing XTeam before her junior year, deciding not to go on the "Biggie 10" summer recruiting trip.
Kline ultimately decided to put school first, and it has paid off for her. She said her grade-point average at CdM is 4.3. She's headed to USC this fall to study cognitive science, and she'll be on a pre-med track there.
"You kind of have to pick one or the other," she said. "Even as a sophomore, going to the East Coast every weekend for like two months, it was killing me. It's really hard to do both. I think I've managed it pretty well without a club team. I decided to put 100% into school lacrosse, and then 100% into academics at school. I think that was my perfect balance, and I've been fine since then.
"It's hard to balance, especially when you want to have a life and want to have friends and stuff. But I've made it."
This year's Sea Kings will have more opportunities to prove themselves. On Monday they play host to Foothill, the top-ranked team in the state by laxpower.com. And on Friday, they play host to a much-improved Newport Harbor team in the Battle of the Bay.
On Monday, she said the girls will be having a team breakfast at 6:30 a.m. Beating the Knights will be tough, but Kline knows that win or lose, the Sea Kings will be united.
"The Beckman game was the most we played together as one unit," she said. "That's why we were so successful in the first half, coming out strong ... Playing with "Bean" and Jamie and Kendall, my three best friends, it makes it fun. I wouldn't be the player that I am right now without all of us together. The program has come a long way too, with all the coaches and these new girls and everything."
Kline is right. In future years she probably will be able to see the program grow even more.
For now, though, she's definitely enjoying the ride.
Born: Sept. 19, 1996
Hometown: Newport Beach
Coach: Aly Simons
Favorite food: Mom's shrimp pasta
Favorite movie: "Father of the Bride"
Favorite athletic moment: Helping CdM make the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division title match in 2012.
Week in review: Kline scored a game-high six goals as CdM upset Beckman, 15-11, in a Pacific Coast League game April 2.