Four-year goalkeeper played major role in Wildcats' success

by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Bess Kitzmiller, shown with her mother, Peggy, takes part in a Signing Day ceremony Feb. 5 at Wilsonville High School. The goalkeeper was accepted at Johns Hopkins University but did not ink an official letter of intent because Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships.Bess Kitzmiller was offered a spot on the Johns Hopkins women’s soccer team in July and committed in September.

But she wasn’t quite finished with the college process.

Because the Division III program does not offer athletic scholarships, the standout Wilsonville goalkeeper had to be accepted at the prestigious university on her scholastic merits.

“I didn’t really tell anyone because I didn’t know if I would get in,” she said.

But the approximately 17-percent acceptance rate at Johns Hopkins, like an incoming shot on goal, was skillfully handled by the academically gifted senior.

She will soon join the Blue Jays, who compete in the Centennial Conference, and plans to study bioengineering while following a pre-med track at the Baltimore school.

Kitzmiller also considered Ivy League schools and some other Division III universities. She crossed Northwestern off her list when she found out its women’s soccer program wasn’t going to add another goalkeeper to its roster.

“I was definitely looking to play,” she said.

Kitzmiller will play at Johns Hopkins under the tutelage of coach Leo Weil, who has been at the helm of the women’s soccer program there since its inception in 1992, and goalkeeper coach Stephen King.

The Blue Jays compiled an impressive 21-2-1 record this past season, including a 9-0-1 mark in league play and a perfect 12-0-0 tally on their home field. They gave up just 0.62 goals per game.

It’s the same kind of success that Kitzmiller helped manufacture at Wilsonville, which went 42-19-5 overall and 23-4-1 in the Northwest Oregon Conference during her four years.

The Wildcats made the playoffs four times, reaching the state semifinals this past season for the second time in three years. They fell to rival Sherwood in the Class 5A title match in 2011, an experience that stands out in Kitzmiller’s memory despite the outcome of the penalty-kick shootout. She was recognized as the player of the game.

Kitzmiller, a starter between the pipes throughout her high school career, anchored a defense that played a major role in Wilsonville’s success over the last four years. The Wildcats gave up 73 goals in 66 games during that span — that’s an average of just 1.1 goals per game allowed — and logged 30 shutouts.

They also won at least a share of three NWOC championships.

Kitzmiller has garnered a variety of individual accolades on and off the field. She has taken Advanced Placement courses in many subjects, including chemistry and calculus, and is one of the top students in her graduating class. She was chosen as the NWOC goalkeeper of the year in 2011 and was a multi-year all-league honoree.

At home games, saves by Kitzmiller were often followed by “Bess is best!” chants from Wilsonville’s student section.

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