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Player makes mark on defensive end

(ran PAS edition)

Kristin Boerner tallied just one goal and one assist as a senior for the 1996-97 Land O'Lakes High girls soccer team. Her contributions, however, should not be measured by statistics alone.

"Stats aren't everything," said Gators coach Vicky King, who thought enough of the defensive-minded midfielder to pencil her into the starting lineup for four straight years.

Boerner, a self-described "leader on the field," reinforced her coach's confidence by earning a scholarship to Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. On Monday, she became the third girls soccer player from Land O'Lakes to sign an athletic scholarship.

Jaime Parr accepted an offer from Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., in 1994, one year after Pam Byrne signed with the University of Mobile.

But unlike Byrne, who set a school record with 34 goals in a single season, and Parr, who shattered Byrne's mark with 40 goals, Boerner's specialty is preventing others from putting the ball in the net. Boerner often marked the leading scorers from opposing teams during most of her career at Land O'Lakes.

"She has a great work ethic," said King, who has coached girls soccer at Land O'Lakes for 10 seasons. "She set her mind, back when she was a freshman, to play college soccer. She worked hard to get there."

Boerner, who along with Michelle Connolly and Shirin Khorsandian served as tri-captain for the Gators this past season, capped her high-school career by playing in last weekend's FACA All-Star Classic in Port St. Lucie. Boerner played for the West squad, which dropped both of its games.

A bigger disappointment, though, was that the Gators did not reach the final four this year, a goal the team had discussed since falling short of the state finals by one round in the 1995-96 season. Land O'Lakes, which won its first Sunshine Athletic Conference title in February, was eliminated by Lakeland George Jenkins in this year's regionals.

Boerner did, however, enjoy playing for King.

"She's a nice coach," Boerner said. "She's easy to get along with."

Much of Boerner's confidence was instilled before she got to Land O'Lakes High. Jim Cote, who guided the Tampa Blackwatch competitive girls teams Boerner has played for, made her believe in her abilities.

"I have learned so much at that place," Boerner said of the past four seasons spent playing for Blackwatch. "The tradition that's there, you just want to succeed and strive to be the best."

Now it is time for Boerner to move on. She will be part of Samford's first girls soccer team. The school had previously played the sport at the club level.

"I just wanted to be part of that," Boerner said, adding, "The school has great academics and that's real important to me."

Boerner's career goal is to become a surgeon.

Combining medical school and soccer, at least during her four years of athletic eligibility, will be time-consuming, but she welcomes the challenge.

"I get a very regimented life," she said. "I have a strict program to follow. That restricts me, but it also puts my life in order."

Boerner also believes her game will improve after she faces college opponents.

"I want to get better," she said. "There's no reason for me to continue to play if I can't improve my game."