Makenzie Burks plays left back on her club team, and she had played the defensive position for the Stadium High School girls soccer team in years past, too.
So why is she now at forward?
“I think being able to score goals is more of a thrill,” Burks said.
This season has been a bit of a joy ride for the Tigers, too.
Burks scored her 20th goal of the season and No. 2-ranked Stadium continued its unbeaten romp through the 3A Pierce County League with a 3-2 win over No. 4 Bonney Lake on Tuesday at Bonney Lake High School.
Stadium improved to 12-0-0 with the win. Bonney Lake (10-2-0) is undefeated against every team not named Stadium.
And consider that the Tigers are doing this after finishing 8-6-3 a season ago and are now one win away from clinching their first 3A PCL title.
“They are more disciplined than last year,” Bonney Lake coach Wayne Farris said. “Maybe a bit more talented, too, but just much more disciplined. They play a beautiful brand of soccer and I’m proud that they are in our league.”
Stadium looked like it had put the game away when freshman Ella Nadeau crossed up a Bonney Lake defender and powered a goal through the net in the 75th minute – giving the Tigers a 3-1 advantage.
Everything that we do – all of our players are really skilled,” Nadeau said. “Even if we take people out we are still going to be really strong.”
But Bonney Lake’s Kaylee Coatney dropped jaws on her first goal of the night three minutes later. She found a pocket of space from the right side of the field on the 10-yard-line and curved it over Stadium goalkeeper Katherine Nelson’s head to cut the lead to 3-2.
Nelson had only been scored on three times previously before this match.
Stadium coach Adam Becker was pretty proud that they had shut the Panthers’ standout sophomore out prior to that. But Coatney still found a way to score her 23rd goal of the year.
“She’s talented,” Becker said of the reigning 3A PCL MVP. “That goal – oh my goodness. Nothing you can do about that.”
Coatney had one more try to tie it. She took a free kick from almost the same spot with seconds remaining in stoppage time, but it sailed over the cross bar.
“I need to give her more time to work on those in practice,” Farris said. “We put a lot of pressure on her to take those without giving her a lot of time to work on them. But any time you can put the ball on her foot, I’m doing it.
“I’m just awful proud of her and all the girls for how we fought back.”
Nelson had 12 saves for Stadium. Coatney also got an assist when Bonney Lake cut Stadium’s lead to 2-1 on Hannah Shortt’s goal in the 71st.
So what gives for Stadium’s perfect season?
Becker, a Stadium graduate who went on to play at Tacoma Community College and with the Tacoma Stars, returned to the coaching helm after taking a year off. He had coached the previous four seasons before that.
Stadium had outscored its past two opponents, Spanaway Lake and Lincoln, 22-0, entering this match. It also beat Bonney Lake, 2-1, on Sept. 21.
“I knew a lot of the girls from my past experience here, but I wasn’t this hopeful,” Becker said. “I thought we would do good, but I didn’t necessarily see us as 12-0 a couple months ago.”
Much of that is because of Burks’ offensive spark.
After Alexis Lamb scored her 13th goal this season to put Stadium on the scoreboard in the 21st minute, Burks made it 2-0 when she caught a pass with her right foot from zooming Monique Nagel, spun and fired her 20th goal of the season into the net.
She had been marked by a Bonney Lake defender wherever she went.
“I was a little bored up there,” Burks said. “At one point my coach was like, ‘Just sit offside and when the ball starts to come back on for the play, drop back on and be in for the attack.”
And Burks plays on the same club team, the Washington Premier U17 ECNL team, where Coatney is a midfielder and Burks a defender. So she was able to give her teammates a scouting report. They met each other afterward to chat.
Burks’ brother, Kendall, was on The News Tribune’s All-Area boys soccer team representing Stadium as a first-team defender. Kendall Burks’ team was 17-0-0 entering the state playoffs when it’s season ended in the first round.
So don’t expect this Stadium girls soccer team to rest on its undefeated laurels just yet.
“We’ve just been making new relationships with our team, getting closer on and off the field and working as hard as we can throughout the season to get to playoffs,” Makenzie Burks said. “And having a going-to-win-state mindset is what I think helps us during games.”
So who’s a better soccer player? Her or her brother?
“Oh, me,” Makenzie quickly responded. “Always.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
NO. 2 STADIUM 3, NO. 4 BONNEY LAKE 2
(S) Alexis Lamb, 21’; Makenzie Burks (Monique Nagel assist), 48’; Ella Nadeau, 75’
(BL) Hannah Short (Kaylee Coatney assist), 71’; Kaylee Coatney, 78’
(S) Katherine Nelson 12
(BL) Eliza Christensen 5, Sarah Daffern 1