Thom Hayes says the reason Kailene Cockerham has scored 52 goals during her career as a member of the Trinity Lutheran girls soccer team is because of her knowledge of the game.
“She has a knack for being in the right place at the right time,” he said. “And, she has good ball-control skills so that she can handle the ball and still find some space to get the shot off. She has a very powerful, accurate shot.”
Cockerham scored a hat trick during Tuesday’s 6-2 home win over Christian Academy of Indiana.
Her first goal that night gave her 50 goals for her career and meant a lot to her.
“The ball got passed to me, I’m not sure by who, and I took a touch around a defender and it was just me and the goalie,” she said. “The goalie was focusing on the closest side to me and I hit the far corner and it bounced in.
“I was like, ‘Wow! I can’t believe I achieved it.’”
She scored her 49th goal against Brown County on Sept. 9, and she was unable to score against Corydon or Scottsburg the following two matches before scoring against CAI.
“It was a lot of happiness,” she said of goal No. 50. “I was like, ‘Ok, the pressure is off me.’ At the beginning of the season, I knew that was going to be my goal this season, besides helping the team win.”
She scored 8 goals her freshman season, 17 each her sophomore and junior seasons and now 10 this fall.
Cockerham began rec soccer in Seymour when she was younger, and then she said the travel team the Cyclones recruited her and asked her to join their team. Cockerham joined the Cyclones and played with them through the eighth grade.
“In eighth grade I took a break because I was doing so many sports,” she said. “When I started high school, I said I definitely wanted to start again.”
When it comes to what she enjoys about the game, she likes the strategy it takes to be successful in soccer.
“I love all the teamwork that is put into soccer. Not one player can do everything by themselves because it’s such a big field to play on,” Cockerham said. “I also love seeing other players’ excitement after they score. I just love how much a team game it really is.”
Cockerham hopes to play college and said she is looking at either Franklin or Ball State because of their psychology programs.
Hayes, who has been her head coach for three years, said she can score with either foot.
“Whatever side the defense gives her, she can go to that side and take a shot,” Hayes said.
He said he feels she can excel at the next level.
“Her size is probably a dis-advantage but she makes up for that in her strength, and her ability to find the space and to get the shot off,” Hayes said. “In the middle of the field against a bigger player, you can see that she struggles sometimes, but she compensates for that very well, especially on the offensive end.”
In addition to scoring, Cockerham can also pass the ball pretty well, and she takes a lot of pride in her passing.
“Most of the time I take a couple touches and make sure the ball is going to get completely through, and then I just send it,” she said.
One of Hayes’ favorite plays from Cockerham this season was actually from a pass she made.
“She’s very good at passing. In fact, the best play I’ve seen her make all season was not a goal,” Hayes said. “It was a perfect, through-ball pass to Sarah Lemming, who took and finished it and scored.”
Hayes said he has enjoyed coaching her.
“She’s easy to coach, she’s open to learn. Even in her senior year, she’s still asking me things, and I give her pointers and she’ll use them and get better,” he said. “So she’s always looking to improve. She takes instruction very well, and she’s just a great asset on the team all-around. It’s been fun. I know the coaches that coached her in the travel program and they’ve always had good things to say about her. She’s just a great part of the team, on and off the field.”
Cockerham helped the Cougars win the Providence Sectional last year. She scored Trinity’s second goal in a 2-0 win over the Pioneers in the sectional finals.
The following week Cockerham scored Trinity’s only goal in a 1-0 win over Washington Catholic in the Forest Park Regional. The Cougars lost to the Rangers in the regional finals.
It’s been a great career for Cockerham on the pitch, and she has enjoyed being a student-athlete at Trinity, where she also plays basketball.
“It’s a great opportunity and I love how everyone at Trinity cares about you and they encourage you to come out and try something new,” she said. “They always welcome you no matter how good you are. It’s a great environment to be in.”