Senators’ Tillitt heading to Colorado to play soccer
Kenzie Tillitt has made her mark as a high school soccer player by scoring goals and making plays in the midfield for Carson High.
At the next level, she’ll earn her keep by stopping shots.
Tillitt, who plays goalie for the Nevada Elite club team, has verbally committed to play soccer at the University of Colorado beginning fall 2013.
Tillitt said she made her decision in mid-February. She will sign her national letter-of-intent this coming winter. University of Colorado, as per NCAA rules, can’t comment until a letter of intent is signed.
Tillitt was originally recruited at Colorado by Bill Hempton and his staff. Hempton left after last season, and Danny Sanchez was hired.
“I had to email him (coach Sanchez) first, and he asked me when my tournaments were,” Tillitt said. “He said he would come out and watch me. We played in a tournament in Phoenix and he came out. He told me to call him the next day, and that’s when I committed. He’s asking me to come in and compete for a starting position.”
For Tillitt, who is finishing her junior year at CHS, it is a dream come true. Her dad, David, and brother, Matthew, both attended Colorado, a member of the Pac-12. Her brother is graduating in two weeks.
“It’s my dream college,” Tillitt said. “Boulder fits me personally. I wanted to stay on the West Coast, and Colorado has the same type of weather that Tahoe has. I don’t mind the cold weather.”
Tillitt said she was recruited by Arizona State, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and the University of Nevada.
“I would have liked to play for Missy Price (at Nevada),” Tillitt said. “The coaching staff there is absolutely awesome. I just didn’t want to stay (in Northern Nevada).”
Tillitt thinks she could play a field position at the next level, and she said that Nevada coaches hinted that she could possibly do both. She said she received no recruiting interest as field player, however. That’s not surprising because soccer players get scholarships based on club play and not high school play, and Tillitt played strictly between the pipes in club ball.
“I love to score goals, but my passion is playing goalie,” Tillitt said. “High school is the only time I play the field. High school gives me a chance to get out of my cage.
“I used to play half in the field and half in goal until the seventh grade and then I started playing keeper all the time. I like having the pressure of saving a big shot; saving the game. I like having the chance to control the game. It’s a leadership role.”
Jeff Cade, who coaches Tillitt’s club team, said Tillitt has a lot of intangibles.
“She has a deep understanding of the game; knowledge of the game,” Cade said. “She has that competitive spirit to win. That separates her from a lot of keepers. She has an outstanding feel for the game. She has great reactions.”
That makes up for her lack of height. Tillitt stands 5-5 on a good day, but she is no wimp. She has no problems coming out of the goal to challenge a shooter; sliding in front of a shot and making a save despite having a cleat flying in her face. She is fearless.
“Colorado was recruiting me (when Hempton was the head coach), and he was old-fashioned,” Tillitt said. “He wanted a big girl standing on the line and making saves. He didn’t like my height. I want to be like the 11th player. I think my field skills make me a better goalie.”
That’s the style Sanchez likes to employ, according to Cade.
“I’ve known Danny for a long time, and he’s excited about Kenzie,” Cade said. “He wants to utilize her as the 11th player in the field, and he likes to play balls back to the goalie. He’s getting a very athletic keeper.”