All-Empire small schools girls soccer player of the year: Chloe Colbert

By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Fifty goals. Fifty. 5-0.

That’s the number of times Sonoma Academy’s Chloe Colbert found the back of the net this season.

It’s a stunning  number made all the more phenomenal when coupled with her 28 assists. Of Sonoma Academy’s other-wordly 184 goals in 25 games this season, junior midfielder Colbert had a hand — or foot — in 42 percent of the strikes,

2014-15 All-Empire small schools girls soccer player of the year Chloe Colbert of Sonoma Academy. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

2014-15 All-Empire small schools girls soccer player of the year Chloe Colbert of Sonoma Academy. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

averaging two goals per contest.

For this, but not only this, she is once again the All-Empire Small School Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

“She never stops working,” said Kevin Richardson, head coach of St. Vincent, the only school to mar the Coyotes’ stat sheet this season with a tie back in September.

Colbert has devastating one-on-one attacking skills but is equally adept at threading a pass to a streaking teammate or otherwise using the skills of the 10 other Coyotes on the field, Richardson said. Those qualities are not always in evidence with players as talented as Colbert.

“She has terrific vision with the ball; she will find other players,” he said. “You don’t often find that — she will include the people around her.”

But if the pass isn’t there?

“She will kill you just with her own skills,” Richardson said. “She’ll take it on her own.”

Sonoma Academy finished its finest season ever this fall, going undefeated through 25 games. The Coyotes again won the NCL II and blew through NCS playoffs with decisive wins against St. Helena (6-0), Roseland University Prep (3-0) and rival St. Vincent in the final, (5-1). It was the Coyotes’ second consecutive NCS title, behind a stacked lineup of talent including the indomitable Colbert who has been a team captain since her sophomore campaign.

“She is not big in height but she is very strong,” said Louise Owens, head coach of Calistoga. “She has got incredible speed and with that, has amazing ball handling skill.”

Colbert, who is not physically imposing, has had to work ever-harder to keep herself from getting double- and triple-teamed right out of a contest.

But her work rate and understanding of the flow of the game keeps defenders from ever feeling comfortable marking No. 5, opposing coaches said.

“She understands the game really well,” said Roseland University Prep coach Dago Sotelo. “She is just on another level. She puts herself in the position where she is part of the play. She reads the field really well.”

And what’s worse than the Empire’s best player being just a junior? The fact that she is noted for her work ethic and commitment to improving her game.

Owens said she noticed a physical change in Colbert this season over last. After all, Colbert scored a mere 37 goals last year and had only 22 assists.

“She has developed a lot of leg strength. It was evident,” Owens said. “Her speed has improved.”

Already terrorizing her opponents with her quickness on the dribble, her improved speed only makes her harder to handle.

“She is someone that is capable of breaking open a game just by herself,” said her coach, Chris Ziemer. “She goes on these dangerous runs with the ball.”

Worried about her height? Don’t, said Ziemer.

“She is on the shorter side but is very good in the air and has scored a decent number of goals from headers and volleys,” he said.

And Colbert continues to build her skills as a playmaker, And she has some stellar teammates to connect with.

Senior Savannah Stoughton and sophomore Sally Ziemer, both first team All-Empire picks, made the Coyotes a team to be feared.

“They belong in a different division. They have so much talent and are so well coached,” said Paul Larrea, head coach of Clear Lake.

But that dominance can change the dynamic of a team. Lopsided wins can mean starters coming off the field in the first half, or playing in unfamiliar positions. ‘Taking the foot off the gas’ can alter how a team plays and what kind of numbers are put up by individuals.

That makes Colbert’s numbers all the more amazing, Ziemer said.

“She had probably more games that she played only half or in the back,” Ziemer said.

But Colbert continues to hone her game.

Colbert’s talents — on the field and in the classroom — have not gone unnoticed by college coaches, Ziemer said.
Colbert, who maintains a better than 4.0 grade point average, has not picked a college but that doesn’t mean colleges aren’t zeroing in on her.

“She is an outstanding student,” Ziemer said. “She has attracted the interest of some top academic soccer programs.”

And as Calistoga’s Owens noted, Colbert keeps getting better.

You can reach Kerry Benefield at 526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com and on Twitter @benefield