Kennedy Price gets funny looks each time she mentions her favorite soccer position.
It’s not forward, midfielder or even goalkeeper.
The Battle Ground Academy senior captain loves playing outside back.
“Everyone’s like, ‘outside back?’ And I’m like ‘yes, absolutely,’” she said.
The puzzled faces have merit.
Price led BGA with 24 goals as an attack-minded midfielder in 2020, helping the Wildcats repeat as Division II-A state champions. However, the recent Tennessee commitment moved to defense this year to fortify a group depleted by injuries and COVID-related absences.
Her versatility is one reason why BGA (11-4) finds itself in state title contention again this fall.
“She’s been begging (to play defense) since her freshman year," BGA coach Jan Morrissey said. "I said, ‘Kennedy, as a soccer player, you’re going to have to be versatile."
“She has proven since then that she is versatile. She may go off to UT and be an outside player of some sort, but for us (she plays) just about anywhere we might need her.”
Price has spent most of the season at center back. But during a 7-1 home win over University School of Nashville in Tuesday’s DII-A Middle Region tournament – a victory that guaranteed BGA a state berth – she finally got to play her natural position of outside back and made the most of it.
Midway through the first half, Price took the ball up the sideline, waited for a teammate to drop back into her place and then drove into the final third, where she sent a high-arching cross to Catherine Schreiber for an assist. She later added a goal and another assist.
USN defenders simply couldn’t keep up.
“KP’s got a different level of speed that I don’t think anybody we’ll play can match,” Morrissey said. “One of our coaches calls her the Ferrari on the team. And she’s got such good vision. Her ability to read and anticipate what may take place is… a weapon.”
Price, who has tallied 10 goals and 11 assists this season, has enjoyed her transition to the back line. She believes her skillset is better suited for long runs up and down the field instead of having the ball fed to her near the goal.
“I like running into space rather than already being in that space,” Price said. “My gift is my speed. I like to utilize that to get forward, receive (the ball) on the run and combine with other players rather than just having the ball at my feet.”
BGA is far from a one-person team, though.
Morrisey described junior defender/midfielder Catherine Schreiber and sophomore midfielder Maddie Hill as players who have taken on bigger roles. The junior duo of Keaton Mitchell (19 goals) and Eva Schreiber (18 goals) provides consistent scoring, and senior forward Alyssa White has been impactful in her return from an ACL injury.
That depth allowed BGA to put one of its best offensive players on defense. It may also help the Wildcats in their quest for a third straight state championship.
BGA hosts Providence Christian for the region semifinals at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“We know we still have to work for every game and keep our training at a high level,” Price said. “We know nothing is given to us. We’re ready to work for the state title.”