On the soccer field, Reed Richardson is a thorn in the side of the opposition.

Blessed with all-state track and field athleticism and a determined motor that launches long runs down the line, the Westview girls’ soccer forward applies uninterrupted turmoil on the other team with the intention of setting herself or her teammates up for a goal.

Being this sort of irritant opponents loathe, but teammates and coaches love, it’s only natural Richardson would gravitate toward the University of Idaho.

When riffling through the recruiting process, Richardson took a shine to the Vandals’ constant attacking style of play and their “never giving up” mentality that ideally matched her own game.

Richardson said Idaho’ offense fancies itself as a “nuisance” to the defense, something the pell-mell fast forward knows a thing or two about.

“I like to be annoying to the defense,” said Richardson. “I’m pressuring the offense every time they get the ball, just running at them and trying to get the ball back. Playing a fast game is harder to defend. I play a really high-paced game, and so do they. I feel like it’s going to be a really good fit.”

UI scouted Richardson at various club showcases and recently emailed the all-Metro player after watching her play in a recent summer tournament. Richardson was already in Cheney, Wash., visiting Eastern Washington, so on the way home, she and her family stopped in Moscow for what was supposed to be a quick visit.

Richardson immediately liked the campus and head coach Derek Pittman, and after touring the school, committed to the Vandals for the 2015-16 season.

“I just love the game, and I wasn’t done playing it,” said Richardson. “I love the feeling of when I’m beating someone down the sideline or shooting a shot. I love being with my team and building strong bonds with my teammates. I want to play another four years and for as long as I can. Who knows what I can do after that? I’ve been playing for so long, and it’d be hard to stop after high school.”

by: COURTESY PHOTO: PAIGE RICHARDSON - Westview's Reed Richardson said her preferred style of socccer fit perfectly with that of the University of Idaho, making it easier to commit to the Vandals.

The right fit

There’s a lot of pressure in girls’ soccer, Richardson said, to commit early because roster spots fill up fast. By the end of junior year, many top-notch girls’ players have already made a verbal commitment unlike many of the other major collegiate sports, where decisions are made sometimes months in advance.

So, taking into account comfort of the school, roster/scholarship availability and playing ethos, the Wildcat forward pledged to UI.

“It seemed right,” said Richardson. “Freshman year (in high school) my coaches were already talking to me about what schools were interested and what college showcases I should go to. The whole process was pretty stressful because so many people are already committed by this time, so it was really nice to get it over with. It’s such a relief to know where I’m going and know I can just work to get better at this point.”

A complete team player who loves to get her other teammates involved, Richardson was one of the state’s leaders in assists last year, making runs down the sides of the pitch and crossing the ball into the middle of the box for headers and one-timers.

When all 11 players are active, competing cohesively, shuttling the ball around the field and finding gaps in the defense, Richardson said that’s when soccer is at its best and when she enjoys it most. On the club circuit, Richardson said there’s a fine line between displaying your skills and scoring prowess for scouts and trying to fit into the team concept.

“It’s hard for me to play a selfish game of soccer because it isn’t just a one-person sport,” said Richardson. “It’s about the team, where we have to work with each other. I love being able to play with the girls that I play with in high school. We all play really well together. I like having other people to work off and work with.”

Moving forward

Ralph Halewyn had a good read on Richardson before he took over as girls’ head coach at Westview, having seen his star pupil for two seasons as an assistant at Jesuit. As a Crusader coach, Halewyn said Richardson would draw defenders in with a touch or two, and then blow past the Jesuit defense into the final third of the field.

“(Richardson’s) always moving forward and looking to attack,” said Halewyn. “The way she utilized her speed is above the level where she is now. She’s always looking to beat somebody off the dribble and either get a shot off or a cross in.”

Richardson, Jadyn McMillan, Laura Camp and the Wildcats went on a captivating run through the postseason, reaching the state semifinals under Ralph Halewyn after being ranked No. 17 in the 6A bracket. The regular season, which included a fourth-place finish in Metro, was topsy-turvy, Richardson mentioned.

However, Westview’s so-so 4-4-2 record went out the window when the playoffs came around and the revamped Wildcats won three straight playoff games before losing to archrival Sunset, 1-0, in extra time on the road.

“One of the first things (Halewyn) told us when he came to the team was ‘You don’t have to be good now during the season. You have to be good during the playoffs’,” said Richardson. “We kept that in the back of our minds the entire season. A lot of people didn’t believe we would go far at all. It was more proving ourselves, and I think we did.”

Stepping up

The Sunset contest was an ill-natured classic and one that stands out in the mind of Richardson, who lined up across from Apollo all-state defender Taylor Coon and University of Portland commit Taylor Luty in goal. Playing before a packed, standing-room-only crowd against girls Richardson grew up challenging brought out the best in both teams.

“That was probably the best game I’ve ever played in,” said Richardson. “Just the environment and how it felt to be on that field in front all those people against our rivals was crazy. It was a heartbreaker, but definitely a great game. It was constant competing and fighting the whole game. I love playing against girls like Taylor. It makes you better and it fuels you.”

With McMillan and Camp gone to graduation, Richardson will assume more duties as a captain and be asked to be one of Westview’s primary playmakers. She’s looking to get faster and stronger this summer in hopes of taking the Wildcats back to 6A’s final four and possibly further.

Based on last year, Halewyn said his expectations are “very high” and he’ll demand more from the squad, especially in the preseason.

Richardson will be the focal point of Westview’s onrush seeing that she can win almost any footrace without losing control of the ball. Where Halewyn wants too see Richardson improve is in the leadership aspect of the game, specifically the vocal side.

“I want to her to encourage and drive her teammates to do well,” said Halewyn. “She’s not a yeller and screamer. She’s not one to speak out against anything, but we’d like to see her by either example or vocally to encourage them.”

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