Kessler getting tips from her father

Published 12:07 pm Thursday, April 30, 2015

Niles goalie Bailee Kessler gets helpful advice from her father Tom, who played goal in the Army. (Leader photo/File)

Niles goalie Bailee Kessler gets helpful advice from her father Tom, who played goal in the Army. (Leader photo/File)

Niles sophomore soccer goalie Bailee Kessler gets free advice on how to play the position from her father Tom.

Being that he was a soccer goalie oversees for the Army, Tom talks often to his daughter about the finer points of playing the position.

Tom also jokes with his daughter about what would make her even a better goalie.

“Just to get big,” Bailee said.

Bailee doesn’t have ideal goalie height. She stands only 5-foot-3.

In only two years playing the position, Bailee has learned how to compensate for her lack of size.

“Bailee has really turned it around when it comes to her technique,” Niles girls soccer coach Jo Schau said. “It’s hard to get up and get the top shots, but getting down and coming out for shots is easier when you’re shorter.”

Bailee’s attitude also makes her play bigger than her height.

“She’s determined,” Schau said. “Soccer matters to her. Every goal matters to her. She takes every goal personally. Our team can build off of that.”

Bailee’s effort was a bright spot in an 8-0 Niles loss to Mattawan on April 17. She finished with 12 saves and probably got plenty of sleep that evening.

“I’m really tired and really sore,” Kessler said after the game. “This was probably one of my most active matches. There were a couple matches last year that were like the Mattawan match. We lost a lot of seniors and we’ve got a bunch of freshmen. We’re all trying to work hard together and continue to improve.”

Schau noticed her goalie’s busy day.

“I probably lost count (of the saves) after the 20 shots she had to put her hands on,” the Vikings coach said. “That’s a heck of a keeper workout. She’s really got her head in the game.”

A strong mindset helped Kessler stay strong despite the constant attack. Trailing 6-0 at halftime, she wanted to play for 80 minutes and avoid an 8-0 mercy-rule score.

“I just try to keep my head up and think what I can do better and get the last goal out of my head and get ready for the next shot,” Kessler said.

“My mindset (in the second half) was to keep two goals out and stay strong.”

Mattawan eventually scored two more goals, but it didn’t come easy. The Wildcats didn’t score their eighth goal until there was 15:22 left in the game.

“I think I did pretty well,” the young keeper said. “I need to improve on my 1-on-1’s and getting my angles right.”

Kessler wants to be the best soccer player she can be in a sport she loves. She started playing soccer in the Optimist Club in Niles when when she was five years old. Kessler has also played on the St. Joseph Kickers indoor team in the winter.

“It’s great meeting new people and getting to play against other people and learning about their soccer skills,” Kessler said.

What matters to Kessler is that she stands tall with her play.