Rejection is a common occurrence in the recruiting process, and Gig Harbor soccer player Allie Bohnett experienced it.
Washington State told her she was too small. Seattle Pacific chose to recruit a forward instead of a defender.
But Bohnett persisted in her quest to find a good school where she could continue to play soccer, and she found it at Central Washington University.
Bohnett has earned the respect of her teammates, coaches and opponents. Despite playing midfield for last season’s Gig Harbor Tides, a position in which she didn’t score a ton of goals, she ended up sharing the honors as Narrows League MVP.
“She’s definitely a well-rounded player, having played offense and defense for us over the last four years,” Tides coach Dani States said. “She has really put the team first for what we need. For some players, it’s a struggle, but not with her.”
Bohnett began playing the sport at an early age with the Peninsula Athletic Association, and she eventually caught on with Puyallup-based Washington Premier FC.
“I chose soccer over basketball, and I know that probably devastated my dad, because he always wanted me to play basketball,” she said. “But I know my family is really proud of me. I’ve put soccer over everything my whole life, and it finally paid off today.”
Bohnett will return to a defensive role at Central Washington, a Division II school in Ellensburg. She plans to major in special education and elementary education. The Wildcats will only lose four seniors to graduation, but Bohnett may play right away as a freshman.
“I didn’t want to go to a big school and not get playing time,” she said. “I wanted to go and play the sport I love, plus get my education paid for. So I have the best of both worlds.”
While Bohnett chose to balance the demands of high-school and club soccer, Mackenzie Dowd elected to go a different route. She suited up for the Tides as a freshman but opted to play her final three years exclusively with Washington Premier FC.
Dowd trained with a boys team, and she said that made her a faster and more skillful defender.
“It’s definitely tough at times, because a lot of my friends play on the school team,” Dowd said. “But at the same time, I knew that I would be happier later when I could develop my skills and become an overall better athlete, which would give me a better opportunity to end up at a school that was a better fit for me.”
Dowd’s recruiting process took an unexpected turn when Tracey Leone, head coach at Northeastern University in Boston, sent her an email. Dowd wasn’t interested at first, but after she researched the school, she found it has the criminology and law programs for which she was looking.
She passed on two other D-I offers closer to home – Gonzaga and Oregon – to attend Northeastern.
Leone, her next coach, has a solid resume that includes three NCAA titles during her playing days at North Carolina.
Dowd’s blueprint – passing up high-school soccer for a select system – paid off, she said.
“My coaches have been amazing at pushing me and helping me reach my full potential,” Dowd said. “They have helped me at everything from honing the little skills — passing, trapping, dribbling — to helping with the bigger tactical awareness.”
States only coached Dowd for one season, but she didn’t blame the player for following her instincts.
“When it comes to getting recognized for colleges, we all know high-school (soccer) isn’t where it’s at,” States said.
During the past two seasons, the Tides have established themselves as a rugged, defensive-minded group, and no one epitomizes that philosophy more than Sara Massee.
“She was the one I was most confident in for being able to shut another player down,” States said. “If there was something you asked of her, she could usually do it.”
Massee’s size helps her defend aerial plays, and it was attractive to coaches at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, where Massee will play next season.
The attraction was mutual, as two former Gig Harbor teammates also play for the Division II Saints – forward Emma Ostergren and forward Hanna Massee, Sara’s sister.
Sara plans to study biology, although she’s unsure of a career path. She began playing soccer with PAA when she was in first grade, and she moved on to Harbor Soccer Club.
“That was probably where I learned the most,” she said. “I learned not only about soccer but about working hard.”
Sara credits her dad, Ken, for having an influence on both Hanna and herself.
“He really pushed us into being good soccer players and telling us to practice all the time,” Sara said. “He was my coach for Harbor for the first two years.”