By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A defensive back line is a goalkeeper’s best friend. The keeper for the PikeView High School girls soccer team, Kristen Brinkley, has found those friendships both easy and helpful.
Before a practice session for the state tournament last week, the sophomore identified teamwork as a strength of the squad “because of us being together, around each other so much.”
She quickly mentioned the defensive backfield as an example of a unit that has come together.
She emphasized the contributions of sophomore fullback Crysta Meekins on the right side, junior Kassie Catron as the left fullback, sophomore Courtney White as the stopper in the middle, and the sweeper, sophomore Shyann Carr.
“They communicate really well, which is a plus,” she said. “It’s a big help. They don’t make you feel the pressure as much.”
Though they don’t have the visibility of goal-scorers, PikeView’s goalkeeper-defense tandem has helped the Panthers to a 16-4-2 record and a spot in the “final four” of West Virginia soccer for the third time in four years.
Brinkley has patrolled the net for every minute the Panthers’ season. She has made 82 saves, or 3.73 stops per match, prior to Tuesday evening.
The opposition has scored 32 goals on PikeView, a goals-against average of 1.45, not counting Tuesday’s match. In the Mercer countians’ four losses, the opposition scored 17 goals, while in the 16 wins, only 10 goals got by the PikeView defense.
After starting the season 0-2, PikeView gave up only one goal in a six-game win streak spanning a 12-day period. Including the sectional tournament, the Panthers have eight shutouts this season.
“It feels good,” Brinkley said. “You always want to hold them down to nothing.”
In fact, when asked about her favorite aspect of goalkeeping, she said, “I just like to see the faces on the other team when I block (their shots).”
A soccer player since the age of 4, Brinkley was introduced to the goalkeeper position as a youngster on a rec league team.
“I just liked the position and stuck with it,” she said. “It’s a good position and I found I could play it well.”
She took over the spot patrolled for three-plus years by standout goalie Amanda Presley.
“It was a little hard, knowing that I had to fill in for a keeper who was pretty good,” Brinkley said. But the team had confidence in her. “It was nice,” she said. “I was lucky to have that good of a team, last year.”
That was last year. This year’s team wants to leave Charleston with a trophy as well.
Brinkley said their goal is to “go all the way and finish with a win. We’ve thought about it a little bit, (asking) do we want to go there and stop, or go all the way?”
— Contact Tom Bone at