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Aviano High School freshman Anna Schrader dribbles during a recent practice. In three games this season, Schrader has recorded seven goals and four assists.

Aviano High School freshman Anna Schrader dribbles during a recent practice. In three games this season, Schrader has recorded seven goals and four assists. (Russ Rizzo / S&S)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Putting together a good high school team on a military base can be a game of luck-of-the-draw.

As military moms and dads leave and arrive with new assignments, they bring their sons and daughters with them. Last year’s star forward is gone as quickly as she arrived, bringing a welcome surprise to her new high school and a mad dash on her old team to fill her shoes.

This year, Aviano High School girls’ soccer coach Pam Hillestad is feeling lucky.

She has Anna Schrader.

Just three games into the season, Schrader, a 15-year-old freshman who arrived this year from Vienna, Va., has already established herself as a standout on the defending Division III European championship team by racking up seven goals and four assists as a starting forward.

Schrader’s speed, spectacular ball handling and “natural nose for the goal” account for her goal tally so far, Hillestad said. And her uncanny ability to know where players are on the field help explain the assists, she said.

But what the box scores don’t reflect are how much fun Schrader has with her teammates and how receptive she is to Hillestad’s instruction, she said.

“Everybody is really excited. She’s young and energetic and great to coach,” Hillestad said. “She’s always laughing and having fun and making other people have fun.”

Schrader said she did not post such impressive statistics on her team in Virginia, mostly because she faced tougher and faster defenses.

“In the States the competition is way harder,” she said.

She also played midfield in Virginia. Hillestad moved her to forward, at least temporarily, to give a needed boost to the team’s offense, she said.

The toughest defense Schrader faced so far was in Naples, she said, where a fast sweeper kept her to just one goal. She still managed to post two assists.

Schrader is a young player on a young team. Nine of the 11 starters on last year’s championship team have graduated or moved, leaving Hillestad reliant on the skills Schrader developed playing club soccer in Virginia.

Even among last year’s wealth of talent, Schrader would have stood out as a stellar player, Hillestad said.

The tie at Naples ended Aviano’s 17-game winning streak, but still the Saints, who don’t play again until they host Marymount on April 30, haven’t lost since 2003, thanks in large part this season to Schrader’s strong right foot.

Schrader’s goals don’t just go in the net, her teammates said. They are memorable.

“One thing about Anna — her goals are always pretty and stylish,” said Erin Page, one of two senior captains of the team.

In her first game with the team, Schrader scored four goals against American Overseas School of Rome (one goal does not count in the official statistics because it came after a mercy ruling ended official play). It was her 15th birthday.

“We’re not surprised,” Page said about Schrader’s birthday performance, “because we know she’s that good.”


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