Leonardtown 2, Westlake 0
It's rare to see Leonardtown senior Heather Cooke not moving at full speed. At home, in the hallways at school and especially on the soccer field, the story is the same -- Cooke's energy level is always running on high.
That energy manifests itself most whenever she steps across the white lines to play for the Raiders. Throughout the course of any one game, the midfielder can be found relentlessly running down loose balls, high in the air challenging for possession or prone on her back after sliding to save a ball from going out of bounds or trying to put away one of her teammates' crosses.
Cooke's relentless play usually leads to two things: a dirty uniform and a Leonardtown victory. Her four goals and three assists have helped lead the Raiders to a 7-0 record, including a 5-0 start in the SMAC, with the most recent win a 2-0 triumph Tuesday over visiting Westlake.
"A lot of my friends outside of soccer are like, 'Calm down, Heather, calm down, you're so hyper,' " Cooke said. "But that's just my personality, and I bring it out on the field. When everyone sees me working, everyone gets in that high spirit, and it brings their energy up."
Tuesday, Cooke's throw-in near the Wolverines' end line led to midfielder Angelina Cords's goal five minutes before halftime, and she finished off forward Emily Gehrig's cross late in the second half to end the scoring.
"Heather plays with a lot of heart and desire, and along with that she has great touch on the ball, she has great speed and she's also an excellent playmaker," Leonardtown Coach Jennifer Henderson said. "She brings the complete package for us and she's a leader for us every time she steps on the field."
As the Raiders' season nears its midpoint, Cooke has started to devote more attention to life after Leonardtown. Cooke has made a number of recruiting visits to various colleges and has plans to go on others. But she may decide to go in an entirely different direction and attend the Coast Guard Academy.
"I took the summer program this summer, and I really liked it," Cooke said. "My dad is retired Navy, and my brother is Air Force ROTC, so I guess it's time for the woman to step up."
With all of that to think about, Cooke is spending the majority of her time trying to ensure that Leonardtown regains the SMAC title it lost to Westlake last season and lead the Raiders, competing for the first time in the 4A East Region, deep into the playoffs. To that end, she is hoping to lead by example.
"I try to be a leader because leaders work and I have the experience to lead the team and do my part," said Cooke.