| Athlete of the Week: Vacaville High keeper Kirstyn Gottschall picks up two more shutouts, extends streak to six games
2/6 at Wood: Shutout
2/8 vs. Armijo: Shutout
Favorite Team: Barcelona
Favorite Player: Ronaldinho
Club Team: Vacaville Xplosion
With 21 shutouts in the last two seasons, Kirstyn Gottschall has become widely recognized as the best goal keeper in the Monticello Empire League.
The Vacaville High School shot stopper proved she’s worthy of the hype last week, serving up two more shutouts to help the Bulldogs take firm control of the MEL title race.
Gottschall’s first shutout came Tuesday in a 3-0 win against rival Will C. Wood. The senior picked up her second clean sheet of the week Thursday night at home in a 0-0 tie with Armijo, which came into the game one tie behind first place Vacaville.
Gottschall was named The Reporter Athlete of the Week, sponsored by Greiner Heating and Air in Dixon.
“She’s money,” Vacaville head coach Drew Talton said after the tie with Armijo last week. “Kirstyn Gottschall is hands down the best goalkeeper in the area, hands down, and I’ve said that all year. Our back line and Kirstyn have been the glue to our team because if we’re not clicking, they save our bacon every week. If we’re clicking, it just supplements everything.”
Gottschall and the Vacaville defense have now pitched six straight shutouts since playing to a 2-2 draw at Armijo back on Jan.18. The Bulldogs have only allowed three goals the entire MEL season with Gottschall between the posts.
“I think it’s pretty amazing,” Gottschall said of the six game shutout streak. “But I know it’s not just me, it’s a combination of the whole team working together to keep the opponents away from the goal.”
In today’s youth soccer world where every youngster dreams of scoring goals, Gottschall grew up stopping them.
She took after her brother, Damian, who is a Vacaville High School graduate and an excellent athlete in his own right. Damian played keeper growing up and led his sister to do the same.
“I got it from my dad and my brother,” said Gottschall, who was an all-MEL selection last year and received consideration for MVP. “I grew up playing with my brother and he played goalie. I always looked up to him because he was really good. I just always wanted to be like him.”
Even so, Gottschall couldn’t resist the urge to score.
During her early recreational soccer days, she played a little bit of everything and wasn’t completely in love with the idea of being stuck between the posts.
Gottschall, though, moved on to the competitive ranks, where coaches thought she was the best athlete for the position. She eventually embraced the job.
“When I played (recreationally), it was really funny because I played half forward and half goalie,” said Gottschall, who is expected to win Keeper of the Year in the MEL this year. “I actually hated playing goalie at first. It wasn’t until my last few years of rec that I started really liking goalie. When I started playing competitive, my coaches always had me at goalie and I started to get used to it and really liked it.”
Gottschall, deservedly so, has received plenty of credit for Vacaville’s success the last few years, but she knows it can’t be done alone.
Gottschall is quick to give shine to the defenders in front of her, including Haley Brunkal, Eryn Dulaney, CC Simon, Gracie Polen and Maya Delgado, among others.
“I’ve played with Gracie Polen and Haley Brunkal for a couple years and they’re both amazing players,” Gottschall said. “I think I’ve played with everyone on this team for a long time and they are all so good. I think me knowing everyone really well definitely helps me play better.”
With Gottschall deflecting anything that comes her way, Vacaville is in a prime position to win its first solo MEL title in a very long time.
Since 2005, the Bulldogs have finished the season in five of the six spots in the standings. An outright first place finish is the only slot that has eluded Vacaville during that stretch.
Vacaville and Armijo tied for the league crown last year, but the Indians are in second place with one game left on the schedule. If Vacaville can take care of Napa at home tonight, the Bulldogs would win the league title outright.
“I think if we won it by ourselves it would be pretty amazing,” Gottschall said. “I don’t think we’ve done that in quite some time, so that would be pretty special.”
Devon Lewis (Wood Girls Basketball)
An Athlete of the Week alum, Lewis posted a team-high 29 points, 17 rebounds, 11 assists and 12 steals in Wood’s 73-34 win over Vacaville.
Zack Perlstein (Vacaville Boys Basketball)
Also an Athlete of the Week alum, Perlstein drained a near halfcourt buzzer beater to beat Wood 59-57. He also had a game-high 30 points.
Angelo Harris (Wood Boys Basketball)
Harris led the Wildcats with 16 points, including several clutch fourth quarter buckets, in the 59-57 loss to Vacaville.
Vacaville High Wrestling Team
The Bulldogs captured their 24th straight MEL title over the weekend. Lawrence Saenz won his fourth individual MEL title.
Vanden Girls Basketball Team
Vanden clinched its 18th consecutive SCAC championship with a 66-17 thrashing of American Canyon.
Vanden Boys Basketball Team
Vanden’s boys team secured its fifth straight SCAC title.
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