Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature

Freshman soccer standout leads charge to NCAA tournament

With a 1–0 victory over the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in the finals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on Nov. 7, the DU women’s soccer team made history by winning its fourth straight conference title.

For the team’s seniors, the victory means they will get to close out their final season at DU in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed: competing in the NCAA tournament starting Nov. 13.

For freshman forward Kaitlin Bast, it means giving the departing seniors the best gift she can.

“We have six seniors on the team, and it’s really a matter of playing for them now,” Bast says.

In that respect, Bast — who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player — has gone above and beyond.

During the regular season, the 18-year-old from Centennial, Colo., led the Pioneers in scoring, tied for first in the league for points, and earned a spot on the All-Sun Belt Conference First Team.

Even so, Bast remains modest when asked about her impressive stats and numerous accolades, considering her success a reflection of her team’s.

“She’s a coach’s daughter, she has that pedigree,” says head coach Jeff Hooker, noting that Bast’s father, Kirk, has racked up more than 500 wins as the girl’s soccer coach at Arapahoe High School, several miles down the road from DU.

“She really understands the game, and she’s not just one-dimensional. She plays a lot with her back to the goal, but then when she’s in front of the goal she has a great sense of where the ball needs to be placed,” Hooker says. “She takes it very seriously, but away from the field she also understands that life isn’t all about soccer.”

To be fair, however, Bast’s first quarter at DU has been mostly about soccer — but she maintains that coping with the demands of being a student-athlete is manageable thanks to the guidance and support of her teammates.

“We all just get along really well,” Bast says. “And it’s great because we’re playing for the same purpose.”

The Pioneers will play the University of Portland during the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday, Nov. 13, in Portland, Ore.

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