Former Apollo star goalie inks with the Oregon State Beaver girls soccer program

COURTESY PHOTO: KRISTI SKIBA - Sunset senior Bridgette Skiba, surrounded by mom, Kristi, dad, Phil, and brother, Hayden, signed with Oregon State University last week at Sunset High School.

At the Skiba household, the state line was drawn early.

You were either a Beaver or a Duck. And since her younger brother, Hayden, wanted to represent the green and gold, Bridgette naturally gravitated toward the orange and black. At the age of four, Skiba already knew where she wanted to go to college someday. As her passion for soccer flourished into a possible vehicle to help earn a collegiate scholarship as the Sunset girls soccer team's star goalie, Oregon State University was always the favorite.

Skiba verbally committed to OSU as a sophomore, stayed true to her decision following two more seasons as Sunset's all-state keeper and signed her name on the dotted line on Feb. 7., cementing herself as a Beaver for the next four seasons.

"I've always loved the Beavers," Skiba said with a smile. "Every year since I committed, I've been looking forward to this day and when I woke up this morning I was just so ready to sign. I texted my coaches at Oregon State. They were pumped for me and wanted me to send them lots of pictures. It was just a really exciting day for me and my family."

With Skiba's dad, Phil, and her mom, Kristi, and Hayden looking on, decked out in orange and black attire, the Apollo keeper said she wouldn't have garnered any individual accomplishments without the help of her family, teammates and coaches.

"I really love what the Sunset community has done for me," Skiba said. "My family has been a big support for me in trying to pursue all of my dreams. They were willing to put me through club and help me grow through year-round soccer. My coaches have helped me grow a lot. And the constant support I get from my friends and teammates really pushed me to be the best I could be."

Skiba was one of three Apollo girls soccer players to sign with respective universities alongside McKenna DuBose (Academy of Art University) and Ally Thom (San Jose State). Both were long-time teammates who went through the Metro League and state playoff wards with Skiba.

"We've had these friendships for such a long time and to be able to plan our future together and be there for that moment meant a lot," Skiba said with a smile. "We were all looking at each other, teary-eyed. We couldn't believe this dream was coming true."

The Apollos have produced a slew of Division One players from Taylor Coon to Taylor Luty to Kasey Stavig, so on and so forth under head coach Ben Durano. Though Sunset hasn't won a Metro title recently, it's often the final conference team standing when the postseason dust settles, sans one defeat to Jesuit in the 2017 state title game.

"Our resilience makes Sunset special," Skiba said. "When we're playing Jesuit or a top-ranked team, sometimes we came into games with an underdog mentality. Our ability to pull off big wins or really close games against good teams defines the best part of Sunset women's soccer."

Sunset boys soccer star Elijah White, who tore his meniscus early in the year, but came back for the stretch run, signed with the University of New Mexico. An explosive, deadly forward in the final third of the field, White was a top-drawer player in Metro when he was on the pitch. As a junior, White played for the Portland Timbers Academy squad and then returned to Apollos for the playoffs a season ago. White scored a goal and dished out an assist against Westview in the second round of the 6A playoffs as a senior in a 4-3 defeat.

Skiba started for Sunset as a freshman and became one of the best keepers on the West Coast. During her Apollo tenure, Skiba and Sunset made two Class 6A state championship game appearances and two more semifinal berths. Skiba earned first-team all-Metro and 6A all-state honors three times.

Between the posts, Skiba is as sure-handed as they come with instantaneous reflexes and the bravery to attack an opponent's breakaway one-on-one. On the field the senior was a true team leader, someone who encouraged, corrected, instructed and cheered from her last line of defense, especially this past season with a young, inexperienced Apollo group.

Skiba said she hit it off early with OSU head coach Linus Rhode and assistant coach Michelle Voiland, who works primarily with the goalies. The Beavers haven't been to the NCAA playoffs since 2011, but Skiba, who won 51 games over her four years at Sunset, hopes she and her fellow freshmen class can help OSU return to the postseason.

"I never imagined I'd get to play at a Pac-12 school like that, I'm just living a dream," Skiba said. "My dreams are becoming a reality. I loved the coaches there, got to meet the team and loved the way they play. They're just going to keep getting better every year and I look forward being a part of that program. I really want to compete for a starting spot. That's the goal and I'm just trying to do whatever I can to earn it."

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