For Cailey Welch, the motivation is simple.
“I just leave it all out there,” she said. “I just want to do it for the team.”
Very reserved when talking about herself, Welch’s performance demands attention, putting together two three-goal performances last week and scoring the tying goal in North Shore’s 2-1 victory over Garden City, the defending Class A Long Island champion, in a girls soccer matchup Monday to be named Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
“She’s just definitely playing more confident, that’s the big key,” coach Lauren Gotta said. “I think with a lot of these kids is that once they become confident, they just become unstoppable.”
Welch leads the team with 10 goals during North Shore’s 6-1 start to the season, including 3-1 in Nassau AB-I after moving up from Nassau AB-II in ability based conference alignments. Welch refuses to take much of the credit, and is excited to be a part of a team with strong playmaking, experienced players such as Selena Fortich, Izzy Glennon and Isabella DiBenedetto. “It feels so good with players like that,” Welch said, “because it gives you a lot of opportunities.”
Opportunities which Welch has made the most of. The track standout uses her tremendous speed and quickness to create breakaway opportunities, like her goal against Garden City.
“Sometimes I look and I’m in awe,” Gotta said. “I look at her and she takes off and it’s like mind blowing how fast she gets to the ball.”
It’s Welch’s second season on varsity and she has already surpassed her goal total (six) from last year. The junior scored three goals in a 5-0 victory over South Side Sept. 11 and three more goals in a 5-4 win over Port Washington Sept. 15.
“It’s like night and day,” Gotta said. “Last year she was a great player, this year she’s an amazing player becauseof that confidence. She just knows that she’s capable of doing things.
“She has the skill, she has the speed, she has the touch, she’s got all that and she had all that last year, too, but now she’s got the confidence and that makes a big difference.”
Welch has scored in five of her seven games to start the season. And even though she’s found the back of the net so often, it’s still difficult for her to put the feeling into words.
“It’s so hard to explain,” Welch said. “You do it for the team, so you feel everyone just jumping on top and it feels so good.”
As for her personal goals for the remainder of the season, Welch’s answer shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“Just the team, it’s going to be a good season, I feel,” she said. “I just want to keep going hard and play for the team.”