By John Shimer Correspondent
Newburyport Daily News
---- — Newburyport’s Jillian Kinter will undoubtedly one day go up on the Newburyport High Wall of Fame after leading the girls soccer program to its first two state titles in 2007 and 2008.
Four years later after a distinguished four-year collegiate career, Kinter’s accomplishments will almost certainly also earn her a place in the Colgate University Hall of Fame.
Twelve days ago, Kinter was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, living up to the preseason hype by scoring 14 goals and assisting on nine more to lead her conference with 37 points.
The senior captain then led the Raiders to an upset of the Naval Academy in the Patriot League championship to secure not only a place in the NCAA tournament, but just the program’s second ever home game in the first round of the same tournament.
“I’d say winning the Patriot League tournament was the goal of our team, that was just the expectation we were hoping to achieve,” said Kinter of her lofty preseason team goals. Kinter led Colgate to two Patriot League titles, her freshman and senior campaigns.
“But most of all this past week preparing to host the NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. The feeling of the whole entire campus, there was so much spirit and so much energy, and it really felt like the entire school was behind you. I’ll miss that a lot.”
Kinter finished in the top 10 in many of Colgate women’s soccer program records — eighth all-time with 85 total points and 32 career goals, sixth all-time with 21 assists and fourth all-time in the clutch category of game-winning goals with 11. She scored five game-winners during her senior season when the Raiders finished 11-6-4.
“I hope to have made an impact, and I certainly feel like my team this particular year made an impact on the program,” said Kinter, who added her team’s comeback to tie Princeton 4-4 after trailing 3-0 was the moment in the year when the Raiders realized the potential they had. “We had so many alumni come back for the game (Saturday) night, and nobody could believe the difference our team has made in the culture of the team, so I’d say this team this year has been the one to leave the legacy.”
In terms of stats, Kinter certainly got better every year on the field — 12 points her freshman season, 13 points her sophomore year, 23 her junior year and then 37 this season. More importantly her coach, Kathy Brawn, said Kinter’s leadership on the field and off the field was palpable over the last two years when she was perhaps the best player in the conference.
“I think in terms of her leadership, I could see just throughout this year and last year, see it developing,” Brawn said. “Jillian is willing to step up and speak very candidly and really convincingly about what the goals on the team should be. She’s so well prepared for everything, and her level of fitness is outstanding. We remind our players to be prepared for the season, and the work they do in the summer they do away from us. When you have one amazing senior who you know is doing those things and, as a captain, is in touch with her teammates over the summer and helping to set a standard, no one has any excuses. I saw Jillian doing that time and time again, which was really encouraging.”
Having coached at Colgate for the last 22 years, Brawn said this year’s team was by far the most talented. Additionally, if she were to put together an all-time Colgate women’s team, Kinter would be a starter on that squad.
“You can look at obvious things like fitness and athleticism, but with Jillian there’s an intangible aspect to her mentality about things — she just never gives up in a game,” said Brawn. “Jillian is someone, especially as other players developed around her, she was marked by one or two players all the time by the opponents we were playing, and she always found a way to contribute to a game whether she scored directly or got an assist or just by her hard work off the ball to make runs to open up space for somebody else.
“However long a game, 90 minutes or into overtime, you could just never count Jillian out of a game,” Brawn continued. “I think that’s something that even players with more talent don’t always have that, and she has it in a way that has helped us out quite a bit.”
After what she has described as an “amazing experience,” Kinter said she hopes there are competitive and potentially professional soccer opportunities down the road. According to her coach, those opportunities will be at her disposal.
“Absolutely she does,” answered Brawn as to whether Kinter has the ability to play pro ball. “The professional women’s soccer state of affairs is a little up in the air right now (in the U.S.), but there are a lot of opportunities abroad as well as semipro soccer.
“If she wants to go, she can go on, and I think it’s just a matter of whether she wants to or not,” Brawn reiterated. “Jillian’s a player that has gotten better and she will continue to get better and better. Where she is at this level, she can still take her game further, and if she wants to do that she will. She’s not an athlete that’s plateaued by any stretch. Her game just keeps improving, which is pretty exciting when you consider how good she is already.”