By MIKE PETICCA
For the Star Beacon
MADISON TOWNSHIP —
Crisp passing, clever dribbling and exemplary teamwork have set up another scoring opportunity.
Julie Gavorski has control of the soccer ball, as if it’s an extension of her one foot and then the other. It’s another chance for her to deliver the ball into the opponent’s net, something she’s done more than 100 times in her high school career.
But no, the scoring ace spots a teammate flashing open, hits her in stride with a pinpoint pass and it’s another Madison goal.
“Julie’s just as happy to give an assist as she is to score a goal,” Madison coach Janet Nikses says of Gavorski, the senior forward who has committed to play Division I college soccer at Cincinnati. “Whenever a teammate scores, she runs right to her, giving hugs and high-fives.”
Madison prevailed at North on Tuesday night, 5-1, Gavorski tallying two goals and two assists. Gavorski now has 12 goals this season — boosting her career total to 107 — and 10 assists. She pelted opponents with 42 goals last season as the Blue Streaks went 14-2-1 and won the team’s first-ever Premier Athletic Conference championship.
It’s quite an edge for a team to have a great player. It’s special when that player comes off as “just one of the girls,” as does Gavorski.
The personable, hard-working four-year starter says her success is due in much part to the people around her.
“The midfielders — Taylor Bland, Julie Bruening and Sydney Ball — get those through balls to me,” Gavorski explained. “Our whole team, including our defense, does so much to help me. Our coaches support me. The team has supported me all four years.”
There’s reinforcement at home, too. Gavorski says her father, Larry, and mother, Linda, and older brothers Ryan and Eric have always been encouragers.
“They support me and go to all of my games. They’re the motivators in my life,” she said. “Before games, they tell me, ‘Calm down, just don’t be nervous.’ They’re always there for me.”
Such encouragement was especially helpful for Gavorski in eighth grade, when she broke her right foot; and as a sophomore, when a broken left foot limited her to nine games. She had surgery after each injury and has a plate and four screws in each foot.
“When I first came back from each of the injuries, I kind of thought about it,” Gavorski remembers. “I thought that maybe they would affect me, but they really didn’t. Doctors say that the plates in there make the bones stronger and that I shouldn’t have any break again.”
Gavorski’s ability to clout the ball certainly was not affected. Nikses said the 5-foot-8 Gavorski scored a booming goal from midfield into the upper right net during a game last season. The Blue Streaks’ fourth-year coach says, too, that “last year Julie probably scored 10 goals on headers off Taylor Bland corner kicks.
“She’s just a natural athlete. Any sport she plays, she’s very good at. As far as soccer, it’s pretty amazing to watch her on the field. The ball is like a part of her. Her foot skills are amazing. She has a very powerful kick. She can score from anywhere.”
Gavorski, adept at moving off the ball and savvy in anticipating opportunities, scored her 100th goal on a breakaway during Madison’s 11-0 home win over Berkshire on Aug. 21.
“The whole team was so excited for her to reach that milestone in her career,” said Julie Bruening, who got the assist on No. 100. “She’s not cocky at all. She doesn’t brag. And she shares with everyone, tries to get the ball to everyone.”
Taylor Bland calls Gavorski her best friend and echoes the theme that her senior classmate’s attitude boosts the Blue Streaks, who will be back in action Monday against visiting Valley Forge.
“She’s a very sociable person and is fun, and that helps our team,” Bland said. “We all play as one and we really are a team. The fact that we’re all good friends helps us play together as a unit. We’re all connected.”
Gavorski was a state track qualifier last spring in the shot put and a regional qualifier in the discus, and is a key player on Madison’s basketball team. She decided in July to continue her soccer career at Cincinnati. She also considered Cleveland State and Wright State, among the several other college programs which recruited her.
“Since I committed, that’s been taken off my shoulders,” said Gavorski, who plans to major in special education. “There was a lot of emailing and talking with coaches. I fell in love with Cincinnati. I knew it was the place I wanted to be.”
Peticca is a freelance writer from Lyndhurst.