PRINCETON — Kiley Schenck tends to overthink things.
But for her senior soccer season at Princeton, she tried to hone in on the task at hand and block out everything else.
“I’m very passionate about the game, so I tend to get upset with myself, but I think I did a good job of keeping a level head this season and focusing more on the game and less about other stuff,” Schenck said. “I just focused on what I had to do. I didn’t over think it.”
With a new mentality, Schenck had the best season of her four-year varsity career.
She scored an area-high 18 goals to go along with a pair of assists as she helped the Tigresses to a 12-8-1 record and a regional championship game appearance.
“Kiley is a goal scorer and she scored goals for us,” PHS coach David Gray said. “That’s the role she played and the role she played for us last year. She’s just one of those strikers who finds herself in the right place and puts the ball in the net.
“She reads the game and is able to anticipate. It does help that she had a couple strong players down the wing to serve balls in to her, but she knew where to position herself to have a chance to score. When she had chances, she often put them away.”
Gray said he thinks her ability to be in the right spot comes from a combination of natural instinct along with playing for a long time.
Schenck, who started playing in the Princeton Youth Soccer League when she was 3, attributes some of her ability to see the field to her older brother, Brett, who was NewsTribune Boys Soccer Player of the Year in 2017.
“It means a lot to follow in his footsteps,” Kiley Schenck said. “He’s helped me out quite a bit with seeing the game and he’s helped me with my skills. We juggle in the yard or just play around. He was always something to strive for to try to be as good as him since he’s been very successful in his career.”
Gray, who coached both Schencks, said the siblings are different players despite both being top goal scorers.
“They’re both goal scorers, but I think Brett relied a little more on his speed and athleticism, where Kiley more relied on knowing where to be at the right time, reading the game and anticipating pockets better,” Gray said.
Kiley Schenck always played forward except when she played on her brother’s team and she played back.
“I mostly played forward (growing up),” Schenck said. “I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else on the field.
“I think it’s a lot of fun. You have your one job. My job is to score goals — obviously combined with everyone else. (Playing forward) is pretty simple overall. It’s straight forward.”
Schenck said scoring the only goal in Princeton’s 1-0 win over Rock Island and scoring the Tigresses’ lone goal in their season-ending loss to Alleman in the regional final were among the highlights f her 18-goal season, which were the most goals in her career after scoring 11 as a freshman, 12 as a sophomore and 15 as a junior.
“Scoring a goal in the last game was a big (highlight) for me,” Schenck said. “The Rock Island game, it was 0-0 and we had some opportunities, but it was a very physical game. It was pretty rough. It was intense for sure. A lot of our student section was there to support. It was the very end — two or three minutes left — and Corrine (Peterson) gave me an assist and I knocked it in. That was probably the best game of my career. It was awesome.
“(I improved a lot) for sure from my freshman year. Freshman year I was scared. I was a freshman on the varsity. I was nervous. I was hesitant. I was still doing OK, but I wasn’t confident in myself as a player. Now, senior year I had a lot more confidence. I was more sure of my touches, which improved my play overall.”
Schenck will take her goal scoring abilities to North Park University in Chicago next year.
“If she continues to read the game, develop and be a little quicker with her decision making, she can be pretty successful (in college),” Gray said. “With the way she reads the game, she’ll be able to find pockets and score goals.”
Just like she’s always done.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.