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The Kingsmen standout goalkeeper inks with OSU

by: JOHN DENNY - Friends and family joined Rex Putnam senior Bella Geist at the high school on Feb. 5 to celebrating Geists signing of a letter of intent to play soccer at Oregon State University. Pictured are: (front, from left) Elliot Bixby, Caprial Sides, Bella, Daniel Gilbert and Joey Cardinal; and (back) grandparents Lee and Sally Creech, and parents Alyson and Dean Geist.Rex Putnam High School senior Bella Geist made it official on Feb. 5, signing a letter of intent to play soccer for Oregon State University.

“I know I have to earn my spot and compete and show them I’m ready for that level of play,” said Geist, who verbally committed to OSU as a junior. “But I’m excited to see what I can do.”

“Her potential, as it has been in youth soccer, is what she decides to do with it...,” said Angela Harrison, Geist’s goalie coach who has worked with her since age 12. “But her coaches and the people she works with at Oregon State will give her every opportunity to earn it. They don’t recruit a kid like Bella to sit on the bench. She’s a tremendous athlete. She’s very driven and yet humble....”

Harrison noted that it’s a tremendous compliment to be recruited by OSU to play women’s soccer.

“They’re in one of the top two conferences in the country,” Harrison said. “They’ve had the last two national champions, UCLA last year and Stanford the year before. It’s a conference for the elite players in the country.”

“Bella is a fantastic goalkeeper,” said Oregon State goalkeeping coach Michelle Boiland. “She’s got height; she’s strong, which is always an advantage when playing in-goal; and, on top of that, she has great technical ability and a tremendous competitive spirit.... She’s a team player who works really hard, and she doesn’t like to lose. It’s very exciting to have her join this goalkeeping crew.”

Boiland says that Geist has the potential to challenge returning junior goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme for playing time as a freshman.

“Sammy Jo is a great goalkeeper and she’s got the advantage, because she’s got the experience,” Boiland said. “But I can tell you right now there’s going to be some serious competition. We’ve got two highly skilled, highly competitive, very talented goalkeepers.”

Boiland added, “If there’s one advantage Bella has over Sammy Jo it’s in her kicking game. Bella can crush the ball. She can drop-kick the ball past the half line.”

But Boiland said that her returning keeper won’t yield playing time to Geist without a fight.

“Sammy Jo does not like to lose — anything,” Boiland said. “Even the toss of a coin at the start of a game.”

Geist has had a phenomenal run as Putnam’s starting goalie throughout her high school career, leading the Kingsmen to the Class 5A state quarterfinals the past three seasons.

Last fall Putnam’s girls soccer team tied for second place in the Northwest Oregon Conference and made the quarterfinals, despite graduating 11 seniors from 2012 and experiencing a run of injuries. Geist was instrumental in that success.

Geist has also excelled as the kicker for Putnam’s varsity football team for the past three seasons, splitting the uprights on 89-of-96 PAT attempts (93 percent) and on two of three field goals. Her 40-yard field goal as time ran out in regulation in a game with Wilsonville helped propel the Kingsmen to a 28-26 double overtime upset of the then fourth-ranked Wildcats.

Geist this fall was honored as the top goalkeeper in the state in Class 5A high school girls soccer. A three-time first-team all-conference selection, Geist was NWOC girls soccer “player of the year” in 2012 and again last fall.

She was also honored last fall as the NWOC’s top PAT kicker, earning a spot on the first team of football all-stars.

Geist says she was surprised both by the all-state honor in soccer and the all-league honor in football.

“There are so many great goalkeepers in Oregon doing ODP [Olympic Development] that I wasn’t expecting to get it,” Geist said.

Geist was named to ODP regional teams four times before becoming too old to be a part of the ODP program. Her club teams won Oregon Premier League State Cup championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012, and her club team [Crossfire Oregon ‘95 Blue] was a state finalist in 2013.

Geist said of the NWOC football honor: “I was surprised my name even came up, let alone that I made first team. I’d never done a field goal before this year. I think it was my field goal in the game with Wilsonville that put me out there in the coaches’ eyes.... It’s nice that a girl kicker can get recognized not just because she’s a girl kicker, but because of her talent.”

A 3.97 student, Geist’s scholarship at OSU is a combination athletic/academic scholarship, for her achievements in the classroom as well on the athletic field.

Geist plans a pre-veterinary major.

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