Kristen Dodson arrived at Waubonsie Valley four years ago during the end of the Warriors’ soccer dynasty. Waubonsie had just captured its third state title in four years.
Timing is everything. As the dominant class of 2010, led by All-American Vanessa DiBernardo, took their game to the next level, their departures opened up new possibilities. Rather than be daunted by that history, Dodson embraced the opportunity.
She walked into the team’s starting lineup immediately and began to make her own mark.
“I’m a person who likes to play hard and be a team player,” Dodson said. “I play for the team, that was one of my strongest qualities and why I was able to come in right away and play as a freshman.”
Now she has blossomed into one of the state’s top players. The forward, an Auburn recruit, put on a clinic in the state’s most prestigious in-season tournament by scoring four goals in the five-game series to power the No. 1 Warriors to the championship of the Naperville Invitational over previously undefeated New Trier.
Dodson has recorded a team-best 15 goals and has added three assists for Waubonsie, which has won nine consecutive games during a 16-game unbeaten streak. Her speed and quickness in open space, in concert with her powerful finish, is a lethal combination. She has recorded career marks of 46 goals and 20 assists to rank among the top five point total in program history.
Her love of the game developed organically through her family. Her brother Ryan, who is three years older, played at Waubonsie Valley and in club. “He started playing when he was probably four or five,” Dodson said. “I just followed and started playing as soon as I could walk.
“I’ve been playing forward since I was maybe seven-years old. I’ve always been the kind of player who’s able to attack and take on defenders. That’s the part of the game I like, and it has just always stuck.”
Dodson’s relentless, attacking style symbolizes the Warriors’ high-pressure, aggressive tempo.
“Looking at my own game, it’s about having the ball and possessing and going forward,” Dodson said. “I just play with heart. If your whole team has energy, I’m going to have energy, and I think that’s the main part of my team, is that we have heart and we love to play the game.”
The Warriors have advanced to the sectionals in Dodson’s first three years and earned the top-seed in the highly competitive Class 3A Naperville North Sectional this season. Last year Waubonsie Valley gave two-time defending state champion Naperville North its toughest playoff challenge.
Coming to the close of her high school career, Dodson has memories that linger. “I’ve met so many different and unique players,” she said. “All of these players, we’re just trying to adapt and play for each other. This experience is something I’ll take for a long time.”