Westminster soccer: North helps lead Griffins into top 25
Westminster College transfer Rylei North is making her mark with poise and purpose for the women's soccer team.
She is leading the Griffins with nine goals, including a hat trick against Doane. Westminster is on top of the Frontier Conference and ranked 22nd in the nation on the strength of her scoring prowess.
"This is the right spot for me," North said. "I wanted to come on a team where I can make an impact."
North always has been a scoring threat. She led Class 5A with 28 goals during her senior year at Alta in 2010. Her speed combined with her ability to get good separation from defenders makes her a nightmare for opposition goalkeepers.
"I'm expected to finish when I have the ball," North said. "It's always hard to find the back of the net, but finding it has always been my job."
She started her college career at BYU-Hawaii, which provided challenges for the high-school standout. North started at the bottom of the Seasiders' roster and tried to work her way into the starting rotation. Through her gritty play and patience, she eventually scored nine goals and started the last third of the season. North learned to play aggressively and take chances on every scoring attempt.
"I love getting those touches that nobody can reach," North said. "I became a better player by taking chances."
While Hawaii might be more her speed she admits she doesn't like the cold her priorities were soccer, school and family. Knowing she wouldn't be finishing her degree in Hawaii, she made the move to Westminster during the summer. North was scouted by Westminster coach Tony LeBlanc, and he readily signed her.
"She's been a great addition," LeBlanc said. "She's a scoring threat every time she has the ball and is a great finisher."
Soccer provides a balance between personal achievement and team accomplishments. North quickly recognizes that these objectives are not mutually exclusive. Her goals at the beginning of the season were to win conference and to earn All-America honors. Scoring at least 20 goals usually is a benchmark for All-America, so North is eyeing that mark.
"Trying to score 20 times is not just me, it'll be the whole team," North said. "There is no way I can do this by myself. The team has a huge role in every goal I make."
North is taking the first steps toward a career in sports medicine. But first she's focused on wrapping up her college career and would like to explore professional opportunities. The chance to play at the next level is too tempting to ignore.
"It's a beautiful game," North said. "I can always come back to [medical] school and start the second chapter of my life."
On the pitch
Westminster plays its conference rival, Carroll College, Sunday in Helena, Mont.
North's nine goals have come on 26 attempts, a 0.346 shot percentage.
She originally was recruited to Westminster, BYU-Hawaii and the University of Utah.