Beth Sexton is offensive.
Not as a person but as a junior defender for the Brainerd Warrior girls' soccer team.
Sexton dispels the myth that a defender can't be an offensive contributor. Through 19 games she had eight goals and three total points to rank third on the team.
In the last five games she has scored two goals against Moorhead, one against St. Cloud Tech, assisted on a goal against Sartell and booted in a penalty kick in the Section 8, Class 2A quarterfinals against Buffalo.
Sexton takes most of the team's penalty kicks as well as kicks from the corners and in dead ball situations.
"I play offense during the summer," she said, "so I have a lot of offense in me.
"I started playing soccer on offense. My dad was coaching our team and he said I had to play defense. It just stuck with me. I have a defensive mode in me. It's been hard to know I can play offense and not play it, but it was not hard to adjust to playing defense."
Warriors coach Steve Kimble realized Sexton could be an offensive force but builds his teams from defense on out.
"A novice coach probably puts their best players up front," Kimble said. "That's why you see average teams that are top heavy. I come from a defensive background. My philosophy is to put your best players on defense first, and if you have anything left over you start to think about attack.
Other sports: Track and field
Memorable sports achievement: Being member of girls' soccer team
Grade-point average: 3.3
Favorite subject: Chemistry
Favorite food: Chicken
Favorite movie: "Butterfly Effect"
Hobbies: Snowboarding, socializing with friends
Future plans: Attend college, major in medicine, play college soccer, would like to coach
Athlete she admires: Teammate Jessica Bye
Parents: Steve and Lynne Sexton
"Beth came in easily as one of our most talented and well-rounded players. And, we stuck her on defense. We've gone around on this but I think she believes in it now."
Kimble believes Sexton could be one of the best forwards in the conference.
"She's certainly one of our best goal scorers," he said. "On defense we create opportunities for her to put points on the board. We use her on corner kicks, she's our No. 1 penalty kick taker. She takes all our short corner kicks in situations where we're trying to give her scoring opportunities. She takes all free kicks in her range.
"She has the green light to put it on net. I think we give her enough looks at the net to keep her satisfied."
Sexton also is one of the Warriors' vocal leaders.
"I yell a lot," she said. "Everyone yells a lot. (Goalkeeper) Melissa (Hanson) helps out with that. You can see everything back there. You see where everyone needs to be.
"We need to keep the ball out of the net. A big key is we all play together, otherwise the ball will be in the back of net. We don't get the glory of scoring goals. We get the glory of keeping them out of the net."
Kimble recognizes Sexton's contributions as a player and as a person.
"Beth has grown up as a player and person," he said. "It's really noticeable. She's always been a solid player. She's kind of been a rock on the back side of our team and defense.
"She steps up in other places and says what she needs to say to get the team going. As a leader she's a big part of our squad. We're trying to find the right kids to take us where we want to go, and Beth has contributed to that."
Other notable efforts:
Christie Nelson, swimming, won two events and was on a winning relay vs. Rocori.
Clinton Strother, football, rushed for 115 yards vs. Sartell.
Brady Prince, football, rushed for 105 yards and three touchdowns vs. Willmar.
Geoff Roberts, football, rushed for 115 yards and touchdown vs. Willmar.
Melissa Hanson, girls' soccer, recorded her ninth and 10th shutouts of the season against Buffalo and Elk River.
Brianna Elg, swimming, won two events and was on two winning relays vs. Sartell.
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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