Times Sports Editor
If there are three words that describe Northview's Cayla Yockey on the soccer pitch, focus, intensity and determination are a good place to start.
The Knights senior is a driven warrior that has never shied away from contact. In fact, she wouldn't hesitate to throw herself into the mix.
Those traits as a defender are invaluable and ultimately led to Monday afternoon's meeting in the Northview Media Room as Yockey signed her letter-of-intent to play collegiately at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
Pomeroy's coach Mike Aycock was on hand to discuss what attracted Saint Mary's to the Northview fullback.
"She's really good technically, she's a player that plays in the back and she's comfortable on the ball and that's really rare," Aycock said. "She's got speed and power and she's a competitor's competitor and it's obvious when's she's playing that she's playing to win."
Yockey's drive to win and passion for the sport is what lead Aycock to believe Yockey can develop into a special player in college.
"I just think she has enormous potential to keep developing in the game and to become a better and better player," Aycock said. "So I think we're just lucky to have seen that and to be able to hook up and to provide the opportunity to get a really good education too."
The Pomeroy soccer program is in its ninth year and has continued to raise its level of competition on the field. However, some of Saint Mary's players have achieved just as much in the classroom.
The Pomeroys have had three players, including current sophomore, Erin Pugh, named USCAA All-Americans. Last year, three more players were named USCAA Academic All-Americans.
Yockey will join a very young squad that is built primarily of players recruited in 2007 and 2008. Twelve of the 18 members on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores and got plenty of playing time.
"A lot of those freshmen and sophomores started, those were two really good classes and (Yockey) has played with some of them so she knows they are pretty talented, Aycock added. "They are really good at keeping the ball and playing at speed."
"I enjoy the speed of the game and the adrenaline. I really like the physical side of the game too," Yockey said when asked about what she likes most about the game.
"My senior year I was hoping for something like this, but I never really thought I'd get the opportunity," Yockey added about the chance to play soccer in college.
Northview coach Tony Alstott has had the chance to see Yockey develop her skills in high school the last three years and believes its her drive to succeed that makes her the most valuable.
"Her sense of competitiveness is number one," Alstott said. "I was a spectator her freshman year, but one thing I learned coaching her in her sophomore year was that she was very teachable. Any thing we taught she would quickly learn and apply it and by her junior year she was right in the middle of the defense and she did a lot to contribute to the first conference title. Of course, in her senior year, she helped lead us to a second conference title."
In her senior year, the awards continued to arrive for Yockey as she received All-WIC honors following a junior year in which she was awarded the Defensive Player of the Year Award. The 2008 captain was also the Rookie of the Year her freshman year with the Knights.
Yockey was also one of the saves leaders on the team outside of the goalkeeper and finished her career with 19 saves, second only to Tiffany Young on the 2008 squad. Yockey was also second in career steals with 83.
"She has a nose for the ball and she's not afraid of anybody," Alstott said. "It didn't matter how big the other person was or where the ball was, she would tackle anyone. That competitive nature and playing with no fear is what certainly separated Cayla from other players."
Yockey joins 2008 Northview graduate, Abby Birkey, in playing collegiate soccer.
Birkey is now a freshman at Grace College.
Alstott, who finished his third season as Northview head coach, believes that developing college level players is a testament to the girls themselves and can only continue to build Northview's own program.
"I think one of the things it shows is a love for soccer," Northview head coach Tony Alstott said. "To go on after your high school career is over and play in college, you've really got to enjoy the sport," Alstott said. "Cayla certainly loves it and so does Abby. It's certainly a tribute to the program and an encouragement to the girls that are still here because you can say that you can earn a scholarship and continue to play the sport in college."