By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
It wasn’t always clear how the Alisa Sagdahl story would turn out.
Entering the season, first-year Meadowdale soccer coach Wade Foley didn’t know if he would have trouble connecting with the senior forward.
“She came with a little bit of challenge because she’s a unique individual in that she’s a character,” Foley said.
Sagdahl or “Saggie” as her teammates call her has always been a bit of a team comedian and she had so much energy, but previous coaches felt it wasn’t always going in the right direction. Sagdahl showed toughness on the field and some people had difficult reading her.
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“I would say that people who don’t know her think that she’s got a rough exterior,” Foley said. “You might think of her as brash because she has a little bit of a chip on her shoulder (but) it’s all a show.
“Once you get beyond that and get to know her and relate to her (she is easy going).”
Her teammates, who know her best would call her the funniest person on the team. The area coaches and Herald staff call her The Herald’s All-Area Player of the Year.
“That was my biggest to goal to really get to know her and show her that I was going to be here for her and give 100 percent of what I can as a coach,” Foley said. “I wanted her to buy in to that, and she did.”
Sagdahl bought in to the tune of 25 goals and four assists, carrying the Mavericks to the state semifinals for the first time in 30 years.
“We had some other great leaders on the team,” Foley said. “But ‘Saggie’ was the kind of girl that would put the team on her shoulders and say, ‘you know what girls I got your back. I’m going to take it. We are going to go. Jump on board. I’ll carry the weight.’”
That is exactly what she did in the 3A playoffs against Bonney Lake after her team fell behind 2-0 in the first half.
Sagdahl scored two goals and added an assist on the way to a 4-3 comeback win that was won in the game’s final minute.
“She has a gift to find the back of the net,” Foley said. “That’s something that you don’t see in a lot of players. She has a wicked left foot. It’s the strongest left foot I’ve seen in any female soccer player in the youth ranks.
“When she was determined to take over a game, she could do it.”
Sagdahl surprised herself with such a strong season that outpaced several local players, who already have secured scholarships from Pac-12 schools
“I just can’t imagine having all those honors,” Sagdahl said. “It’s amazing … I knew that I was going to have a solid season, but not as good as I did.”
Sagdahl has a verbal commitment to Edmonds Community College, but hopes to still secure some kind of scholarship to play at her dream school: Washington State University.
“My dream is to play at WSU,” Sagdahl said. “I fell in love with the campus. That is the number one reason why I want to go there”.
Sagdahl’s soccer skill has developed since she was first old enough to kick a soccer ball. When she was nine playing recreational soccer, a coach recruited her to play for the Northwest Nationals club, which she has been with ever since.
What possibly pushed her over the top this season was embracing a leadership role with Meadowdale. Though not an official captain, she was the one everyone looked to when times got tough, like during the Bonney Lake game when the team was down two goals. She urged her teammates to look at their left wrists, where they had all written the team rally cry “We Believe.”
Normally with a permanent smile on her face around her teammates, Sagdahl learned this season when to joke and when to focus.
“When I’m serious, I’m serious,” Sagdahl said. “When somebody uses it all the time (it loses impact) “I just use it very little, so it’s more effective when I say something.”
Now that the season is over Foley can look back and wonder what if Sagdahl had been 100 percent in the team’s 2-1 loss to Seattle Prep in the semifinals.
Not one to make excuses, Sagdahl didn’t tell people who weren’t close to the team that during the state playoffs she suffered a hip injury, which Foley said left her at “probably 75-80 percent” and caused her to miss much of practice in the days leading up to the game.
“Even at that level she had the ability to stay in games and teams still had to mark her,” Foley said. “But when she’d plant, it was hard for her to take a shot.”
The Meadowdale coach, who had coached the JV previously had a special first year leading the varsity and he knows a big part of that was watching the development of Sagdahl.
“I’ll be sorry to see her graduate,” he said… “I know that she’s going to do well in the future. She’s just a superb kid and it was my pleasure to coach her.”