LAKEWOOD RANCH — Amanda Baar isn’t afraid to test the limits — even if it means getting aggressive with her opponents.
In the middle of her final season, the Lakewood Ranch High senior defender takes pride in knowing she is one of the only players standing between her opponent and the goal.
“I love defense,” Baar says. “I love the thrill of knowing you’re one of the last players on the field. I love to know that the reasons shutouts happen are because of us and the goalie.”
It is a position Baar was thrust into two years ago, and it’s one she’s grown to appreciate. After all, it’s not easy to mask your mistakes when all eyes are on you.
“I was extremely nervous,” Baar says. “It puts so much weight on your shoulders because if you mess up, you’re the last person there. It scares you. You can’t afford to make silly mistakes because it’s a lot more noticeable when you do.
“I just keep telling myself don’t let them by me,” Baar says. “I love to play aggressive. I love to shove and push … that sounds horrible.”
Baar began playing soccer when she was 4 years old, after her parents signed her up at the Braden River Soccer Club. She quickly found enjoyment in the sport and has been playing for the Rage, along with Lakewood, ever since.
“I love being outside and it was something to do, too,” Baar says. “I love being on a team. I’m not so much about playing individual sports.”
Three years ago, Baar fractured vertebrae in her back. She was forced to sit out her freshman year. After wearing a back brace and undergoing six months of rehabilitation, Baar returned to the field for her sophomore season.
At the time, the former forward was eager to get back out on the field with her teammates, but she wasn’t quite sure how to approach the game.
“I knew how much I loved to play, and I wanted to get back as soon as I could,” Baar says. “It would scare me to go up against (other players). I didn’t want to do it all over against. I trusted my doctors, but it definitely altered my physical shape.”
Two years later, Baar admits she still feels pain from time to time as a result of her injury, particularly when she lands hard on it during games, but she is no longer afraid to be aggressive.
“I’ll be done after this soccer season, so I’m just going to go out and push myself,” says Baar, who hopes to attend the University of Florida.
Baar has helped lead Lakewood — a team with only four seniors — to a 12-1 record so far this season and has aspirations of helping the Lady Mustangs capture another district championship.
“I think this is such an amazing group of girls,” Baar says. “I love them all half to death. We’re so close and everyone is so nice and likes each other. We have such a good record right now, and I definitely think we’ll go far.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].