Five soccer balls dot the top of the 18-yard box in a perfect line and Emily Collier moves with a ruthless efficiency to put each one in the goal.
She wasn’t satisfied with her targeting in shooting the ball over the past couple games for Blanchet Catholic School’s soccer team, so she corralled assistant coach Matt Pearson into staying after to help her work on this aspect of her game.
This is far from first time they’ve done this.
Collier, a junior midfielder, is aiming at a spot five feet to the left of the right goal post and five feet down from the crossbar.
She shoots one ball that skids along the ground into the goal, and without dwelling on it immediately backtracks and shoots the next ball to the exact spot at which she’s aiming.
Then she backtracks immediately and shoots the next three balls to within feet of her target.
For Collier to stay after one of Blanchet’s practice to get another 30 or 40 shots is not unusual.
“She likes to really train and do things afterwards,” Pearson said.
The rest of the Cavaliers’ players are gathering their things and going home, but Collier’s drive won’t let her leave until she nails each shot perfectly.
“That pushes me to work hard as well,” said sophomore forward Briana Anaya. “I don’t want her to be the only one working hard.”
For an all-star player with a quiet efficiency on the field – “As far as her personality when she’s with the girls, total goofball,” head coach Tina Pearson says – Collier’s demeanor on the field is as serious as one can be.
As a sophomore she scored 17 goals and had 16 assists, but more than the points she accrued was the way she did it.
Collier says she plays a defensive center midfielder position, but it’s a nice way of saying that she will appear in every spot on the field during each match.
She’s as capable dropping back to help the defense as she is leading attack and either distributing or finishing, much as she did while scoring a goal and recording four assists Sept. 6 in a 9-0 win against Gervais.
“That’s kind of why I’m all over the field,” she said. “You want to connect and play with everyone on the field, defenders, outside mids, forwards.”
Collier has a rare combination of speed and endurance to cover every inch of the field for 80 minutes.
“We always call her the Energizer Bunny because it seems like she never gets tired,” said senior forward Katarina Veliz. “She’s just sprinting all around the field non-stop. She’s like a train. A full on horse.”
Veliz looks over and sees Collier shooting goals after practice.
“See, that right there. That’s Emily,” Veliz continues.
As a freshman for Blanchet, Collier was a first-team all-league and second-team all-state selection and as a sophomore she was the league player of the year and first-team all-state.
Not that the accomplishments placated her.
She can’t remember a time – dating back to when she started playing the game at age 6 – when she went a full week without playing the sport.
“It’s like a lifestyle to me,” Collier said.
Collier played club soccer for Capitol FC most of her life, but got into the Olympic Development Program in middle school and played in that her sixth and seventh grade years and then again in her freshman year.
Her competitive drive is what took her to the next step.
Some of her teammates from the ODP teams were trying out for the Portland Thorns Academy team.
So of course Collier had to, too.
Playing for the Thorns Academy last winter required her to travel to the Portland area two to three times a week for practices and to matches all over the country on the weekends.
Collier had to make a choice.
She could play for the Thorns Academy or play basketball for Blanchet, a team for which she was second-team all-PacWest Conference as a freshman.
She did both.
“I guess you have to sacrifice some things,” Collier said. “And that was like hanging out with friends on the weekend because I would be travelling to various states and tournaments.”
And she managed to squeeze in being one of the top middle distance runners in the state in track and field, too, placing fourth in the 400 and third in the 800 at the OSAA Class 3A state meet last spring.
Not that Collier has ever lacked the skills in soccer, but with all of this time and energy she has put in playing the game with the Thorns Academy, she expects to get better.
“She’s coached by really good coaches that just continue to help her on her skills and her maturity, too, which now that she’s a junior, it’s a different story right now,” Tina Pearson said.
Collier put all this work in for a reason.
She is going to play college soccer.
Where, and all of the technical stuff like that, is a long way from being determined.
But she’s approaching the recruiting game with the same drive she has in every other aspect of the game, making videos and getting her important information out there to college coaches.
“It’s like her dream to play, like not just D2, D3, but D1 soccer,” Veliz said. “The coaches, they realize that and she likes them to be hard on her.
“She’s just that type of person who has that drive to want to get better. She’s extremely coachable, and she leads our team. She’s a really good leader on and off the field. And she’s an amazing person inside and out.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler