At the youth level of soccer, most players might let their coaches handle their development, opting to let an adult take charge to help advance their soccer careers.
Fairfax sophomore Liz Nguyen didn't let a coach tell her how to improve her game. Instead, she decided that in order to become a better soccer player, she had to play less soccer.
"I felt like I could be even better [at soccer]," she said. "I used to play year round, but now I don't."
A former member of a premier Chantilly travel soccer team, Nguyen decided indoor track would serve her better than travel tournaments and continuous offseason soccer games.
She also wanted an activity in which she could put her sprinting speed to more use than chasing balls.
"I chose track because of my speed," Nguyen said. "I guess I am fast. I played travel soccer, but I thought that track would take me further. So now I'm doing high school track and soccer."
It's Nguyen's quickness that makes her a threat to opposing defenses.
In an April 12 match against Langley, her speed helped her earn an assist on the game's lone goal. The assist showed the best of her two sporting worlds, a keen soccer sense and her quickness.
As a pass flew at her, Nguyen headed the ball toward the right corner of the field, sprinted to collect it and fooled her defender with nifty step-over move.
She then lobbed it to freshman Stefanie Spitz who finished the play with a lob shot, giving the Rebels a 1-0 advantage.
"I was looking for Liz to make a quick pass and try to get a shot off," Spitz said. "I just swung at it and it was one of those shots that got above the keeper's hands."
It's no surprise she could outrun her defender with just a few quick bursting steps, after all, the 55-meter dash is one of her best track events.
Her teammates also recognize the abundant speed she possesses, sometimes relying on it at critical moments in a match.
"She really helps us," Spitz said. "Sometimes when we're looking for quick touches, she can make outside runs that will beat the defenders and give us breakaways."
Although Nguyen has placed a larger focus on track, training for the Fairfax indoor track team hasn't hampered her ability to play soccer.
"During the summer, when I'm not playing soccer, I just train for track," she said. "It's not hard to [go back to soccer]."
Fairfax head coach Nick Maclean said the amount of conditioning and training Nguyen does for track in the offseason makes her a perfect fit for the right midfield position.
"In her position, you have to work up and down the lines. When we get the ball back, she can all of a sudden be on the other side of the field," Maclean said. "She's just really fast and in really good shape. You need players to get up and down the line, and she does that very well."
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Filmed and edited by Reed S. Albers.