Elyse Baker practices with the Lake Stevens High School girls soccer team on Wednesday in Lake Stevens. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Elyse Baker practices with the Lake Stevens High School girls soccer team on Wednesday in Lake Stevens. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

September Athlete of the Month: Lake Stevens’ Elyse Baker

The standout senior is 4-year varsity player and key contributor for the Vikings.

When Lake Stevens High School girls soccer player Elyse Baker took the pitch for tryouts as a freshman, head coach Prato Barone saw she possessed the technical skills needed to be a varsity player.

He just had questions about whether or not she was physically ready for varsity competition.

“Usually what happens with freshmen is they typically show well on the field when you put them through skill drills at a tryout,” Barone said. “But coaches will put more weight to the field play. And a lot of those players will fall down on the physical nature of competing for balls and being pushed and run off balls.”

Baker started the season on the junior-varsity roster, but it didn’t take long for her to prove she was ready for a higher level of competition. In one of the first few games of the season, Baker delivered a six-goal scoring outburst against Stanwood that quickly made her coach second guess his decision to put her on the junior-varsity team.

“It was like, ‘Holy smokes! Did we miss something here as we formed our team?’” Barone said.

Baker was on the varsity roster soon after and she’s been a stalwart in the Vikings’ lineup ever since.

“It was definitely exciting,” Baker said. “Once I got there, I was even more nervous playing with a bunch of seniors who I didn’t think thought much of me because I was a freshman and had been on JV for a couple of weeks, but it was exciting. I definitely earned my playing time and it was definitely a good first year.”

As that season went on, Baker said she started to become more comfortable with her role on the team. And as the years have gone by, she’s also become a centerpiece of the Lake Stevens squad.

Barone said Baker, an attacking center midfielder, possess the intangible leadership qualities that coaches can’t simply instill in their players. She pairs those qualities with a complete offensive game that’s been critical for the Vikings.

“She has the ability to strike and strike with accuracy, especially on a lower ball,” Barone said. “…We try and run all of our plays through her when we come out of the back and we’re looking into the attack because she sees the field so well. That’s her huge strength. She’s got a real smooth first touch and it helps her make that quick turn at midfield and see up front better than anyone else.”

The Lake Stevens coach also noted his senior captain’s ability to work in tight spaces and provide the type of physical play that’s needed to compete against high-level opponents.

Baker’s skills were on full display when the Vikings opened their season against Lincoln (Seattle). She found the back of the net three times as Lake Stevens secured a 5-1 victory. For her efforts, Baker was voted as The Herald Prep Athlete of the Week for Aug. 30-Sept. 4. She went on to win The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Month poll for September by claiming 512 (50.4%) of 1,015 votes.

We caught up with Baker to talk about her soccer career, the Vikings’ large senior class and the struggles of recruitment during the pandemic:

When did you start playing soccer and how did you get into it?

I think I was 4 or 5 years old when I first started playing soccer. I played for the Lake Stevens Rockets at Lochsloy. My older brother played soccer, so I just wanted to do everything that he did. My dad played soccer, so he’s the one that got my brother into it.

Your team has a pretty large group of seniors. How close are you with this team and what’s the experience been like?

Some of my closer friends made (varsity) my sophomore year. Definitely my sophomore year was probably one of my favorite years just because of the people and our success — we made it to state again. I talked about this on my senior night a couple weeks ago that the things in high school soccer that we remember aren’t the games and whatever we do on the field. It’s the people and the memories off the field. All the seniors on the team, a lot of them I went to kindergarten with. So I’ve just grown up with these people. It’s kind of crazy to think that it’s all coming to an end.

How important was it to get a somewhat normal season this fall with this group?

It was definitely exciting news to hear that we would have a relatively normal season, knowing we have a good group of seniors that want to win. That’s always what I think is so important is having people that want to be out there and want to win. Getting a normal season, especially for our senior year, it’s something that we need to take advantage of because I know we had six or seven seniors last year and they didn’t get (that opportunity).

What would you define as your role on this team?

I’ve tried to take on the role of just trying to be the communicator. We all want to win, and I think that being a leader in the middle of the field is so important because you see everything. You’re up and down the field, you’re connecting with the forwards and the center backs. I think being a center-mid, you’re just kind of the very core of the team. You’re involved in almost every play. … I’m just trying to continue to be a leader and a strong player in the middle and hopefully not let my teammates down.

What are your plans after high school?

I have no idea what I want to do after high school. I plan to go to college, but I don’t know where. I’m still in the recruiting process, so that’s kind of put me on hold for making a decision. There’s a lot of thing up in the air for me right now.

What’s the recruiting process been like during the pandemic?

It’s definitely been stressful. It’s hard to stay motivated and continue to talk to coaches. It’s also hard because they’re in their season right now. So they’re super busy. You just kind of have to stay patient. I know that there’s somewhere that’s going to be right for me to go play. … Another thing with COVID and dead-period rules, we haven’t been able to go places and visit. COVID hit at a bad time for me with it being the first year that coaches could contact me, the summer after my sophomore year. It’s definitely been stressful, but I’m hoping in the end that it will all be worth it.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Lake Stevens' Trayce Hanks eludes defenders during a 4A state quarterfinal game against Gonzaga Prep on Nov. 20, 2021, at Lake Stevens High School. (John Gardner / Pro Action Image)
Championship central: Lake Stevens’ run to the title game

Get ready for Saturday’s 4A state championship game with stories from the Vikings’ success-filled season.

Lynnwood's Dina Yonas drives to the hoop during the game against Jackson on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
GALLERY: Lynnwood girls down Jackson as winter sports begin

The Royals open their basketball season with a 59-51 win over the Timberwolves.

North Carolina's Mason Phillips (top), a Stanwood High School alum, claimed the 149-pound championship at the Wolfpack Wrestling Club Open held Nov. 14 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Blake Clifton/UNC Athletics)
Community roundup: Stanwood grad wins title at Wolfpack Open

Plus, volleyball standouts earn all-conference nods, a former area girls hoops star helps end a long losing skid and more

Winter prep sports roundup.
Prep results for Tuesday, Nov. 30

Prep results for Tuesday, Nov. 30: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Jackson High senior Dominic Hellman, a University of Oregon commit, batted a .558 this season with five home runs in 13 games. Shot on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Local athletes who have signed to play sports in college

The early signing period for all NCAA sports except Division I and II football opened Nov. 10.

Kalen DeBoer speaks during a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, in Seattle, to introduce him as the new head NCAA college football coach at the University of Washington. DeBoer has spent the past two seasons as head football coach at Fresno State. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
DeBoer takes reins as head coach at Washington

The ex-Fresno State coach plans to lean on former successful Huskies coach Chris Petersen for advice.

Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (24) scores on a two-point conversion against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Grading the Seattle Seahawks’ 17-15 loss to Washington

It’s more of the same as the Seahawks continue to suffer from the same problems.

FILE - Toronto Blue Jays' Robbie Ray pitches to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Ray won the AL Cy Young Award on Wednesday, Nov. 17, bouncing back from taking a rare pay cut after a dismal season to capture pitching’s top prize. Ray became the first Toronto pitcher to earn the honor since the late Roy Halladay in 2003.  (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
Source: Mariners, AL Cy Young winner Ray agree to 5-year deal

The left-handed starter’s contract is expected to be worth $115 million.

Everett Silvertips players huddle together during a game against Kamloops on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. (Kristin Ostrowski/Everett Silvertips)
Patterson: Tips appear to be legit contenders in top-heavy WHL

Everett proved itself in a tight 3-2 loss to Kamloops, but a few moves could help shore things up.

Most Read