Karina Lacey helps lead Battlefield soccer on quest for state title


Battlefield senior and N.C. State recruit Karina Lacey, right, has played a key role in the Bobcats’ undefeated run to this week’s Virginia 6A girls’ soccer state tournament (Doug Kapustin/The Washington Post).

Like millions of other soccer fans around the world, Karina Lacey will be closely tuned in when the World Cup begins this week in Brazil. But while her rooting interest may lie with the United States, the Battlefield senior will be keeping a special eye on Brazil, Italy, Spain, Uruguay, Colombia and Argentina.

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The smorgasbord of teams comes from an e-mail sent to Lacey by the North Carolina State women’s soccer coaches, who encouraged her to glean tips from each team’s defenders in preparation for Lacey’s anticipated move from midfielder to outside back when she joins the Wolfpack next fall.

“I’ve never played that position before, so when they told me, I was like, ‘Okay, I guess I’m willing to try,’ ” said Lacey, who committed to N.C. State last fall. “I know they have a plan with all the recruits coming in and using a formation that works with our skills. I’m hoping I can come in and make an impact wherever they need me.”

Lacey’s versatility and vast playmaking ability have been key to top-ranked Battlefield’s undefeated run to this Friday’s Virginia 6A state semifinals, when it will face Cox. The senior co-captain has recorded seven goals and six assists and is the player Bobcats Coach Kevin Hilton calls “the link between our backs and the rest of the team,” attacking the net while also providing help on defense to help the Bobcats outscore teams 97-10 through 19 games. Lacey is especially effective in the air, using her head to score the majority of goals off corner kicks from fellow midfielder Becca Callison.

“I just try to play simple when I get the ball,” Lacey said. “I try to keep it moving, so that our offense doesn’t slow down and we’re always on attack.”

This past weekend, Lacey sat down with her father to watch a tape from last year’s state final, when the Bobcats fell 2-1 in a heartbreaker against Deep Run. During the replay, Lacey noticed the vast improvement made during the past year by her and her teammates, many of whom returned this season motivated to reverse their past misfortune.

“I think I’ve gained a lot more confidence,” Lacey said. “I could see on the tape that when I got the ball, I’d just pass it to the player closest to me and try to give away quickly. Now being a senior and a captain, I have more responsibility and I know other players are looking for me and [senior co-captain] Colleen [Gawkins] to lead and make plays, so I’ve tried to take that challenge and be more aggressive.

“It was heartbreaking to see us get so close and lose,” Lacey added, “but it’s also motivating that we got that close and now we’re back in a position where hopefully we get the title this year. We definitely don’t want to feel what we felt last year again.”

NUMBER CRUNCH: 2
All-Met rising senior boys’ basketball players who have transferred out of the area in the past week. Monday saw Allonzo Trier announce his move from Montrose Christian to Findlay Prep (Nev.).

BREAKFAST LINKS
-Wilson’s Kareem McDonald changed his timetable and committed early to Old Dominion’s football team on Monday.

-Paul VI sophomore guard Raven James committed to Villanova last week.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
Virginia 6A/5A lacrosse state semifinals, 6 p.m.
The final week of play for the high school sports season will get underway Tuesday with the lacrosse final fours. On the boys’ side, Loudoun County will take on Western Albemarle at Tuscarora in a 6A semifinal. Meanwhile, on the girls’ side, Battlefield will host Westfield in 6A and Woodgrove will host Salem.

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