Three WWU student-athletes honored for fourth year
COLLEGE: Second-team Daktronics West Region and first-team Great Northwest Athletic Conference all-star as junior in 2013 ...Named to Final Four All-Tournament team and GNAC academic all-star ... Started all 23 games ... Had two assists, both in 5-0 win vs. Simon Fraser on 11/2/13 ... First-team NSCAA West Region and second-team GNAC all-star as sophomore in 2012 ... Started all 23 games ... Had game-winning goal in 2-0 win at Montana State Billings on 10/18/12 and one assist in 2-1 win at Saint Martin's on 9/15/12 for three points ...Played in all 18 games, making 17 starts, as freshman in 2011 ... Had two assists for two points ... Three letters.
HIGH SCHOOL: Second-team all-Northwest Conference selection as senior at Bellingham High School ... Scored six goals for Red Raiders ... Honorable mention Class 2A all-State and first-team all-league as junior ... Four-year letter winner ... Played six years in state's Olympic Development Program ... Twice selected to U.S. Western Regional squad.
PERSONAL: Major is physical education.
Cooper's skills in the middle of the field give Western versatility
By DAVID RASBACH, THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
November 23, 2013
Cross country runners have it easy compared to Kim Cooper, the midfielder for the Western Washington University women's soccer team.
Six kilometers? Eight kilometers? Even 10 kilometers?
"Last time we had a heart monitor on her, she ran over eight miles in a game," coach Travis Connell said. "She covers a ton of ground for us."
Of course Cooper's running is spread over 90 minutes, but she has the added obstacles of dragging opponents up and down the field as she ranges nearly from goal line to goal line and sideline to sideline.
Cooper, a junior from Bellingham High, will, for the last time this year, cover the vast spaces at Whatcom Community College's Orca Field starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24, when the Western Regional champion Vikings (19-1-1) host South Central Regional champion St. Edward's (19-0-2) in an NCAA Division II national quarterfinal.
The game, which pits the ninth- and 10th-ranked teams in the country, will send the winner on to the national semifinals on Dec. 5 in Evans, Ga.
Western, which is coming off winning its first regional title with it 1-0 victory over Cal State San Bernardino on Friday, Nov. 22, will once again rely heavily on Cooper to help get it there.
"The whole team has confidence in Kim," Connell said. "They know how important she is to our team. We put a lot of trust in Kim."
You wouldn't know it to look at Cooper's season stats.
Through WWU's first 21 games, Cooper has not scored a goal and has only two assists. She's only attempted three shots all season.
Yet Great Northwest Athletic Conference coaches thought enough of her play to select her first-team All-GNAC.
"Stats don't lend themselves very well to the sport of soccer," Connell said. "Coaches understand how important it is play out of the back. There are so many coaches and teams that say, 'We can't play that pass out of the back to the midfield.' It's a dangerous pass, but we can do it because we have Kim."
Rather than having to work the ball up the sidelines all the time, Western has the ability to take it right up the gut and at the heart of an opponent thanks in large part to the way Cooper is able to work with center back Brianna Jones.
"You have to have an immense amount of technical skill to be able to do that," Connell said. "If your first touch lets you down, you turn the ball over in a bad place on the field. But Kim is really consistent and her technique is flawless. ... She can control the game and maintain the pressure. She's like a good point guard in basketball."
And like a good point guard, Connell said Cooper's soccer IQ is "through the roof."
"She is what we do different each game," Connell said. "A lot of teams play a lot of different formations. The one player we have that has to adjust to the way other teams are playing is Kim, and she is smart enough. We rely on her to understand what the other team is doing."
Not only understand, but attack.
Connell said Cooper more often than not finds the way to push the ball up without putting her team at risk for a counter attack.
And she's just as effective on the defensive end.
"Kim is a great two-way player," Connell said. "She is super skilled, and at the same time, she's the hardest defensive tackler and body-on-player we have."
Add in a competitive nature, and it's no wonder Cooper is so valuable for the Vikings.
"She is one of the most competitive players you'll ever meet - whether it's a game of cards or the first one to sit down for dinner, she's competitive," Connell said.
Because of that competitive nature, Cooper helps make the Vikings better.
"She enables us to control the tempo of the game," Connell said. "We can be diverse in our attack and keep teams off balance. Most defenses try to take something away to make you one-dimensional. When you have a player of her caliber in the middle of the field, you have balance. You can't take away the run game and force us to pass. We can do it all, because Kim gives us versatility."