Esme Kline is easy to locate on the field. She has propulsive style of play and energetic nature.
“I’m a big fan of running,” she said.
The Young junior forward has a natural affinity for being in the middle of everything.
“The attack is pretty much going through her,” Young coach Spero Mandakas said.
Kline has made the transition from a complementary player to the primary focus. The Dolphins (8-4-2) are the beneficiaries. Kline leads the team in points with nine goals and 10 assists. Her aggressive play is crucial to sustaining the team’s preferred up-tempo pace.
“Analyzing myself, I think of my game as always attacking and looking for where the other team may make a mistake or where there might be a loophole in their defense,” Kline said.
Her creativity with the ball combined with quickness and athletic ability makes her a very potent and versatile player.
Kline said part of being a team leader is understanding the emotional and physical complexities of teammates. Individual talent has to exist within the fabric of the team, she said.
“I’m not a selfish player,” Kline said. “If it’s a leadership role, you have to take it into your own control but not flaunt it. I want to energize the team and help guide them, be somebody who can encourage and get them in that [aggressive] mode and give confidence,” Kline said.
Kline started playing soccer at 3 years old, kicking the ball around with her father. Her exposure to a Hyde Park club team provided the first indication of her ability. Her time at Young has corresponded with playing for the high-level Northfield-based FC United program.
The results have showed. Two years ago, she recorded eight goals and five assists on the city championship team. Last year she had six goals and six assists, despite missing the final nine games of the season.
“She stays after practice to work on things on her own,” Mandakas said. “She’s always up for the challenge. She has put the team on her back, even in some games pulling back to the defense to win balls.”
By elevating her game, Kline is the critical reason Young has surpassed its own expectations after suffering significant graduation losses.
“We’re a far better team than I thought we’d be,” she said. “We have a really fast frontline, we’re cohesive in our play and we combine really well together.”
Kline, who plans to study marine biology, has drawn recruiting interest from a range of schools, including Iowa, Cornell and College of Charleston. Her playing style mirrors her personality through and through.
“My attitude is being committed and never stop,” she said. “You don’t ever want to give anybody the chance to beat you, even if you’re playing against a better team.
“Be on top of what you do and play your level of soccer.”