Blount's all-time best

Pasqua leaves with county record for goals

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By Stefan Cooper
Sports Editor
Blount Today

Were it not for a broken collar bone her freshman season, Ali Pasqua, in all likelihood, would have become the first Blount County soccer player - girls or boys - to score 100 goals.

The Alcoa High School senior finished her career with a county-record 98 after Tuesday’s season-ending, region-tournament loss at Christian Academy of Knoxville, but there was more to his All-State forward than scoring, Lady Tornado coach Larry Fowler said.

"She was dedicated to it, but, at the same time, she was a team player," he said. "Ali would be the first one to tell you it’s not all her. She’d be the first one to tell you it was her teammates setting her up."

Pasgua gave as much as she got in her four seasons, finishing best among Lady Tornadoes in assists the last three years. That fourth year - her freshman season - goes back to the broken collar bone, Fowler said, a year that defined Pasqua better than any.

Alcoa girls soccer was in only its second season when Pasqua and a talented collection of freshman arrived. Right away, it was obvious Pasqua was something special.

"When she first came out there, you were amazed because her skill level was so high," Fowler said.

Pasqua got off to a flying start, knocking home eight goals in record time. Just as fast, that freshman season was cut short when the at-times dazzling Lady Tornado rookie suffered a broken collar bone after a hard tackle in a match against Central. The next day, her right arm in a sling, Pasqua approached Fowler with a request.

"The day after it happened, I went to coach and said, ‘If we get to districts and we get in a (penalty-kick) shootout, you have to put me in,’" she said. "‘I can still kick.’"

Fowler said he and assistant Tom Gorman initially took Pasqua’s words as a nice sentiment. The injury would take a minimum of four weeks to heal. When the Lady Tornadoes reached that year’s district championship game, Pasqua, in street clothes, was there on the bench for support.

She just didn’t stay there.

As the match went to overtime, with penalty kicks looking all the more likely, Pasqua slipped away from her teammates to find her mom, Brenda.

"She went home and got my stuff and I changed in the car," Pasqua said. "My mom and dad told me to stand in the corner (of the field) and don’t get in on any action. I was like, ‘Yeah, right.’"

A shove from an opposing player set Pasqua’s competitive juices racing. Instructed by Fowler and Gorman to remain at the touchline and wait for the shootout, Pasqua, her arm still in the sling, was soon going full tilt.

"I must have looked pretty funny trying to run in that thing," she said.

At full strength the following season, Pasqua set off on a scoring pace that would eclipse a record once thought unapproachable. Former Maryville High School standout Nikki Porter knocked home better than 90 goals before a knee injury in club soccer wiped out her senior season.

Pasqua pulled within one of Porter’s single-season record of 33 goals last season. The Lady Tornado ace has rippled the netting 31 times this fall. Bettering the single-season mark, along with reaching 100 career tallies, would easily have been within Pasqua’s reach had she not been more concerned about her teammates, Gorman said.

"To be honest, with the district we play in, she could have easily run up the score, but that’s just not her," he said. "That’s just not her game. Even being our true target player, she was able to play the ball and distribute it to the right people."
Pasqua’s efforts helped then-freshman Shericka Wilson strike for 17 goals last season. The talented sophomore put 18
goals in 2006 before an illness recently ended her season. Together with seniors Colleen Barnett, Kelsey Kincaid, Kelsey Webb, Jessica Fields and Jennifer Chen and Annie Brown, Pasqua led Alcoa to a pair of district titles. Pasqua and junior midfielder Mallie Thompson, 13 goals this fall, were named All-State a year ago.

Two matches stand out in a career that saw Pasqua tally better than 25 goals in each of the last three seasons. The first was last year’s district championship win over Seymour.

"During the season, they beat us, 7-1, on our field," Pasqua said. "We didn’t know how that happened."

Alcoa would avenge the loss in the district tournament championship game, but the match she and her teammates are most proud of, Pasqua said, ended in defeat.

Christian Academy is one of the state’s most established powers. The Lady Warriors routed the Lady Tornadoes during the 2005 regular season.

"The first time, they beat us really bad," Pasqua said.

For the rematch in the region tournament, Pasqua said the Lady Tornadoes were resolved to deliver a better showing.
"The whole team had that one goal in mind," she said. "We were going to beat CAK."

While the Lady Warriors again triumphed, 4-2, the effort she and her teammates gave that day, Pasqua said, is a memory that will last.

© 2006 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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