So far, the junior forward has mostly made good on her personal promise, netting goals in seven of the Bobcats’ eight contests to bring her season total to 10 entering Friday’s game against Broad Run.
“Once things start clicking and our midfielders get the ball out front, I just try to connect and finish every time,” Gawkins, who scored a season-high three goals in Tuesday’s win against Freedom-South Riding. “The players I practice with every day have a lot to do with that. They push me all the time to play my best and keep up our competitive spirit.”
A Tennessee commit, Gawkins is one of four Bobcats to commit to Division I programs. Sophomore Becca Callison pledged to Kentucky, goalie Taylor Kerxton is signed to Wake Forest and senior midfielder Bri Toelle is headed to Iowa.
Gawkins also finds plenty of competition during her club practices with PWSI Courage Gold. Tied with Gawkins for the fifth-most goals in the area (based on results reported into the Post) is club teammate and Forest Park junior Annah Lindberg. Just above them is another PWSI Courage Gold player in Jewel Christian, who has 11 goals for Woodbridge so far this year.
Battlefield Coach Kevin Hilton credits Gawkins’ strong scoring ability to the sound ball skills and relentless attitude around the goal she has displayed since her freshman season. Most defenders find it hard to catch up with the speedy Gawkins, who also garnered interest from Georgetown, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and William & Mary.
“Her athleticism and ability to take on defenders make her a dangerous player,” Hilton said. “When she’s isolated, she uses great pace to get into open space and she’s been finishing quite well all year.”
Hilton also noted an improvement in Gawkins’ defensive ability up front, which has created more scoring opportunities, helped the Bobcats outscore opponents, 24-8, and positioned them to make a run at a second straight Virginia AAA Northwest Region championship.
“Compared to past years, we kind of have a young team and maybe earlier in the season, I might’ve said we were playing like 11 individuals,” Gawkins said. “But the past few games, we’ve been playing as a whole and it’s been great to see. If we keep that up, we can have a lot more success.”