Opposing soccer players have found it tough to keep Elly Aronson off the scoreboard. That’s because it’s tough to match her quick feet.
Aronson, a freshman at Gig Harbor High School, was selected for the 2012-13 Washington State Youth Soccer Association’s under-15 Elite Player Development pool. The honor grew when she was chosen for the 18-player travel roster that competed Jan. 11-13 at the U.S. Youth Soccer Region IV championships in Las Vegas.
Aronson, a forward, was part of a strong showing from the Washington team, which defeated opponents from Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Oregon before it lost, 2-0, to Southern California in the championship match.
“We weren’t expected to go as far as we did,” Aronson said. “It was a really good experience, and it was a lot of fun to just get out there and play, knowing that I made a high (quality) team and knowing that I was representing the state of Washington.”
Aronson won’t turn 15 until February, but she’s already made her mark against more experienced girls. She was the only ninth-grader to make the varsity roster last fall at Gig Harbor, which used its wealth of juniors and seniors to capture the Class 4A Narrows League crown and advance to the state playoffs.
Aronson has plenty of natural skills that translate to the soccer pitch. Most people notice her exceptional speed, which her coaches have had to harness.
“Because of her speed ... if she’s too flat, she’ll actually go ahead of the ball and then she’s offside,” said Kathy Aronson, Elly’s mother.
“(It’s) an interesting problem to have, that you’re so fast that you actually get ahead of the ball. (Coaches) were talking to her about how she can come around and angle in on a run, and still make it there and have a bit better approach toward goal.”
Aronson has been pulling on her cleats since she was 4. She has bounced back and forth with several area clubs, including Harbor Soccer Club, WestSound FC and Washington Premier FC.
She started as a defender, but she found her true calling about four years ago.
“From then on, I considered myself a midfielder or forward, because I enjoyed those positions more, and I liked to score,” she said.
Aronson has had the benefit of some top-notch coaching. She’s quick to point out the impact of several individuals, including Harbor Soccer’s Shawn Alire, WestSound’s Dan Drew and Jonny Taylor, and Washington Premier’s Wade Webber and Scott Halasz.
With the state’s Elite Player Development program, Aronson has furthered her training with Lyndsey Patterson of the Seattle Sounders Women and Stephanie Cox, a Gig Harbor resident who has played with the United States at the Olympics and World Cup.
Her time with Gig Harbor High coach Dani States also has been productive. States likes her girls to be as aggressive as boys, and that means looking to score at every opportunity.
“She really worked on going to goal with me,” Aronson said of States. “I think that was the No. 1 thing. I would often pass it when I should’ve shot.”
Making it to the Region IV championships wasn’t easy. About 150 players auditioned for the U-15 EPD pool, and only 30 were selected. Another 12 were left behind for the trip to Las Vegas.
The Washington team was stellar on defense during the tournament. It shut out its first four opponents before the title-game loss.
Aronson is planning to use her speed on the Tides track team this spring. She’s been working with coach Kevin Eager on those skills, and Dallas Edge, a soccer player and state-caliber hurdler “has been a solid supporter and friend and encouraged me to participate in track as well,” she said.
But soccer will continue to be Aronson’s main focus, and she knows her sophomore season with the Tides will be a big one. She didn’t get much playing time last fall, but with 14 seniors graduating in June, that will change.
“I know I’m going to be attacking more and wanting to win more,” Aronson said. “I feel like I’m also going to be a leader and not just a freshman.”Sports Editor Neil Pierson can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_neil.