Story written by Dom Nicastro, correspondant from the Ipswich Chronicle
Ipswich - Paul Vasconcelos just came out and said it when asked about Ipswich's Cathryn Folkestad.
"She doesn't do anything wrong," the Lesley University women's soccer coach said of his junior center halfback.
"Backbone of the team."
"Best center back in the NECC [New England Collegiate Conference]."
OK. We get the point.
Folkestad is a major contributor for Lesley, who last year had the NCAA's best all-time turnaround for a Division 3 program. It went 14-4-1 in 2007 and this year finished at 16-3-2. In the conference tournament, the Lynx went to the NECC semifinals and lost in penalty kicks to Elms College (of Chicopee).
Even her mother, Sue, steps it up - she brings the team ginger snap cookies for games.
"We just got more numbers and a really good freshman class, which helped a lot," Folkestad said. "Last year, we turned things around, but we got some more defense back there with me now. Even if anyone gets hurt, everyone is ready to come of the bench."
This is quite the change since her freshman year, Folkestad said. The Lynx "barely had enough players to field a team" in 2006, she said.
She credits most of the turnaround to coach Vasconcelos, whose recruiting efforts paid off. And it isn't easy - he also coaches the men's team.
"Coach has really turned things around for us," said Folkestad, an holistic psychology major who minors in health. "We all love him. He's on top of everything. He works really hard to get these girls in."
The coach deflects all praise back onto his prized center halfback, who has five goals and two assists. He sums her up as a "soccer player who happens to be an athlete." She has a little bit of everything.
"She's our MVP, the backbone of our team," Vasconcelos said. "She's the most important part of our team. She's an unbelievable soccer player."
So much so, that Vasconcelos sees a future in the game. Folkestad said she's putting the brakes on that thought and is just focusing on this season and getting good grades for now.
"I know she'll continue to play," Vasconcelos said.
Folkestad does play in competitive leagues to help improve her game - specifically with the Boston Renegades, the premier women's club team in the area.
"I've always just been really passionate about the sport," Folkestad said. "Being a defender, I work on keeping smart and being open to all different positions. I really haven't been focusing on any goals. I just want to be an all-around better player.
"It's just really important to have a connection with your team," she added. "In college, you realize you're going to run with these brand new faces from all over the country. You need to build that chemistry, and I think we're pretty good."