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Goalie keeps saves in sight


Look into Kate Macfarlane's eyes and you'd swear she could see in the dark.

Nothing escapes the Hereford goalkeeper's notice. Very little escapes her reach.

With feline agility and a thorough knowledge of the position, Macfarlane earned everything from All-County to All-Metro to All-State soccer honors last fall as a sophomore.

What really sets her apart, however, is a powerful determination to excel especially under pressure. You can see it in her eyes.

"I like pressure. I think I play a lot better if there's a lot more pressure on me. A lot of people would say it's crazy, because I like having to make hard saves, I like having to save the game. I even enjoy shootouts."

A shootout victory -- last fall's regional opener against defending state champ Loch Raven -- ranks as Macfarlane's best game and the biggest win in Hereford girls soccer history.

Coach Steve Power won't soon forget Macfarlane's 26-save performance.

"Kate did two or three of the most incredible things that you've ever seen. [Raiders striker] Robyn Harry redirected a ball with her head and Kate did a diving stop and pushed it past the pole. All the time, she was doing that sort of thing."

To Power, however, Macfarlane's reaction as the shootout approached seemed as remarkable as the performance that sparked the Bulls to their first appearance in the state semifinals.

"Kate started to smile like, 'Oh boy, this is fun.' Everybody else was shaking with nerves, but Kate just thrives on the pressure," Power said.

Her competitive nature emerges in everything Macfarlane does from games to grades. A regional high jump champ, she is a 4.0 student, ranking first in her class and planning a college major in engineering. On the PSAT, she scored 1,420.

An Olympic Development player since 1992, Macfarlane discovered soccer in a babysitter's backyard when she was 5 years old. Now, she plays for the Under-16 Baltimore Football Club Mixx/Energizers, who were state cup finalists last year.

But Macfarlane isn't satisfied with ODP and club ball.

Seeking to boost her game to the regional pool level, she turned two years ago to Mike Curry and his Umbro No. 1 Goalkeeping Academy in Columbia.

"One of the things you notice right away is her jumping ability," said Curry.

"Part of that comes with the confidence of physically being able to control the box. You have to have the ability to get up above the crowd. Her verticals are probably the best of any female I've coached."

Macfarlane found plenty of inspiration in the academy's other standouts, 1995 Centennial graduate Brock Yetso, now splitting time for national champ Virginia, and Howard senior Megan Boehm, still considering a host of full scholarship offers.

After succeeding them as Academy Goalkeeper of the Year, HTC Macfarlane hopes to follow them to the national pool and to a top-level college program.

"The key word is presence. That's the character of being a mean son of a gun, so when the ball comes into the area, there's no question whose ball it is," Curry said. "Other players are intimidated, because they're so certain you're going to get the ball. That's what Kate has to master."

For the No. 14 Bulls (4-4), Macfarlane has remained steady. She has allowed six goals in four losses to higher-ranked teams including three to Loch Raven, but the Bulls did not score in any of those games.

Still, Macfarlane usually blames herself for the losses.

"I hate to lose," said Macfarlane, who replays the games in her mind. "I usually end up twisting things around so that I should have been somewhere else. I can usually find a way where I could have saved the ball."

In two weeks, the Bulls will be in the regional playoffs again. And -- as the opposition saw last year -- with Macfarlane in the goal, anything can happen.

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