By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When Stillwater High School girls soccer coach John Fields decided to move Sam Krysiak from midfielder to forward, Krysiak thought the Lady Pioneers’ coach had lost his marbles.
“It was definitely the coach’s idea,” Krysiak said. “I was very uneasy about it, but I play where the team needs me and at that time coach decided that he needed me at top. It’s grown on me and it’s become my primary spot now.”
That move turned out to be a blessing for the Lady Pioneers and Krysiak this past weekend in the Stillwater Cup. In three games, the senior forward tallied four goals and two assists, helping Stillwater finish second in its own tournament.
“She had been very successful as a midfielder — very good at dishing out the assists — but she struggled a bit last year in scoring,” Fields said. “At the end of the year, she said she was looking forward to coming back into the school season and scoring a lot of goals. She was ready to have a breakout season in terms of her offensive output and she was true to her word.
“She’s got some really good partners to work with. We generally run two forwards up top and its generally Hannah Grant, Olivia Staubus or Kelsey Henneha — all of whom are also really good offensive players. They’re all unselfish in giving the ball off to each other in order to take the best shot possible, so it helps when you have a group of girls that are working together like they are.”
Krysiak may have plenty of help from others, but a big reason for her success is her approach to each game and practice.
“She’s always one of the first at practice,” Fields said. “She’s always helping the younger kids to understand the basic concepts when we’re doing an activity.”
“I just do it for the love of the game,” Krysiak said. “I love playing, so I’m going to get there early. I always mentally prepare and physically. I just love being there, that’s why I’m there.”
In those minutes where she stands alone on the turf at Pioneer Stadium all kinds of thoughts run through Krysiak’s mind. It’s also a time when Krysiak can escape the pressure of being one of Stillwater’s leading scorers and just be herself — something she struggled with last season.
“Last year, I set a goal of wanting to break the school record for most goals in a season set by Maria Grados,” Krysiak said. “I felt like that almost set me up with too much pressure. So this year my mindset was to go out there, play my own game and have fun with it. If I break those records, then more power to me. But I wasn’t going to set myself up and stress myself out about it.”
Without the pressure to score a ton of goals, Krysiak has been able to relax. In turn, it’s helped her develop as a player and a leader.
“It’s been great to watch her really go from a player that was really focused on the game to a player that’s able to focus on the game and her younger teammates,” Fields said. “A lot of those younger teammates look up to her. Sam is really aggressive off the ball with good ball-handling skills and I’d like to think that she is a role model for our younger kids.”
The jury is still out whether or not Krysiak will break the school scoring record, but performances like this past weekend will certainly put Grados’ record in jeopardy.
And as far as Fields’ decision to move Krysiak to forward, it’s safe to say that Krysiak won’t be questioning any other move the coach decides to make.
“Oh, I’m happy to be there,” Krysiak said. “I wouldn’t go back now. It’s completely grown on me and I’m totally for it now.”
Brandon Prather, track
Sam Smith, boys soccer
Carson Teel, baseball