Pfeiffer's a perfect fit at Barrington
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There's an certain aura around wearing the No. 10 shirt in soccer.
Wearing it is reserved for players with a certain creative flair, those with special leadership ability and footballing skill.
Molly Pfeiffer was the proud owner of that number at Barrington during a marvelous four-year career.
And for the all the sensational goals she scored along with the dozens of postseason honors, the most memorable day of her career would come down to her last one with the team she loved so much.
After lifting the 3A third-place state trophy last Saturday evening at North Central College in Naperville, Pfeiffer, along with the rest of her teammates, jumped on the bus in advance of one final ride together.
"We asked the driver to turn off the radio," said Pfeiffer, "and almost immediately, someone different would begin to sing a new song. And it continued right up until we pulled into school.
"That's what high school sports is all about, and the reason to play and one of the big reasons I am so glad that I stayed around to play all four years. It's something that you never get back, and the memories from that day and all the other ones I spent with this team, program and coaching staff will stay with me forever."
In return, Barrington's team captain also earned an honor she can keep forever: Pfeiffer is the Daily Herald's choice to captain the Northwest all-area girls soccer team.
That's only the most recent in a long list of awards for Pfeiffer.
Mid-Suburban League coaches voted her player of the year in the West Division.
Coach from outside the immediate area also noticed, awarding her a second straight all-state honor. And two weeks after that, she earned All-Midwest honors as well.
"When I heard that I would be the all-area captain for the Daily Herald, I was shocked and surprised, I always seem to be when I receive an award," said Pfeiffer. "It's all so humbling to me, especially with so many great players in the area. But I've been so fortunate to have great teammates, and I guess things just fell into place for me. It is a nice way to go out."
Pfeiffer will attend Marquette University next fall and play for a highly successful women's program under Markus Roeders, who convinced Ann Marie Lynch to make the trip north last season after she wrapped up a marvelous four-year career at Rolling Meadows.
"Ann Marie sent me a text before our semifinal last Friday which said to play my heart out, good-luck, and after the weekend, your next game with be with me at Marquette," Pfeiffer said. "I got so excited, yet all of a sudden, I knew my high school career was just about to end, and in a few weeks, I'll be in spring practice up at college. It has gone so fast."
Pfeiffer provided excitment for Fillies fans from the moment she stepped foot into the lineup.
During her freshman season, she recorded 5 game-winning goals, one of which beat Glenbrook South in the Pepsi Showdown final, where she also earned tournament MVP.
Pfeiffer was at the core of a historically excellent run at Barrington. During he four seasons, Barrington won 79 matches, three MSL Cup championships and earned four straight supersectional appearances.
"Molly is the epitome of a No. 10, and she might be the last to wear it here for awhile," said Barrington coach Ryan Stengren, who admits he got a little misty-eyed during his final pregame talk before the Fillies beat Buffalo Grove 2-0 in the Class 3A third-place match last Saturday night. "It's not like me to get that way, but I've been fortunate to have an unbelievable group of seniors, all of whom have been terrific leaders, players and teammates who also have represented the school and Barrington soccer in the finest way. And with Molly, knowing this would be her last game, I guess it all hit me when I had everyone in front of me before that game."
Stengren says Pfeiffer is right there with the likes of onetime Fillies greats Kim Grodek, Jenny Solberg, Mary Kubiak and Amy Johnson.
"There will always be great players that come through here, but Molly wasn't only a great player, she was also just the best all-around person that I've been around," Stengren said. "She is the type who plays with a lot of spirit, sportsmanship, energy and has a work rate which is second to none. She's someone you build a program around, because it's always team and her teammates first, then herself somewhere after that."
The player, in this case, is also grateful to the coach.
"It's been great playing for Stengren," said Pfeiffer. "He's always been a coach who has been there for me, looking out for me, getting me to play my best, and at a higher level in order to play at a D-I college program," Pfeiffer said. "I've had a great relationship with him, and I will miss playing for coach."
Pfeiffer has career stats of 44 goals and 37 assists in her career (including 12 and 11 this year). Those numbers certainly could have been greater if she had not missed extended time during her sophomore and junior seasons due to various injuries.
The scouting report on Pfeiffer might look something like this:
Hands-down one of the best midfielders to ever play for the Fillies.
Pfeiffer can operate from deep within the midfield, or get forward with the best of them, is a fine crosser of the ball and packs a tremdendous shot from distance. She has finesse on the ball, owns a subtle touch, provides energy and is quick-thinking. Capable of the incredible and inspiring, she is nearly unbeatable with her short burst of speed on the ball. Can dictate the tempo and influence the run of play, has terrific vision, an eye for a killer through-ball, and is tenacious in the tackle.
Where she stands above the others is in the air. Fearless and tenancious, she is an absolute dead-ball predator.
In the MSL Cup against Buffalo Grove, Pfeiffer delivered the game-winner when she went into a crowd and thumped a header off a Mia Calamari corner. And in the supersectional with St. Charles North, she did it again, off another Calamari delivery, even with the North Stars knowing that Fillies would be playing to their strength in that situation.
"Whether in the box, or (at midfield) Molly is the absolute best in the state in the air," said Stengren.
"Winning that MSL Cup this year, especially after missing last year's game with an injury, ranks right up there with some of my best memories here," says Pfeiffer.
Pfeiffer says she truly enjoys the game, which helps explain that familiar smile she's always sporting. That passion for the game along with her unique ability to be strong in the air should help in her transition to the college game.
"I know the college game is more physical," she said. "The speed of play is much faster, and I'll be playing against 21- or 22-year-old players, but I feel like I am ready for that next challenge, and the coaches at Marquette feel the same."
Having battled injuries in previous seasons, Pfeiffer also feels what she's already learned about staying healthy will be a plus.
"Tim Scanlon, at HealthQuest Fitness in Palatine, has been a tremendous help in getting me to understand the value of being fit and in shape, as well as knowing and doing all the right stretching excercise to promote good health, and to stay injury-free," said Pfeiffer.
As it stands, Pfeiffer is one of the fortunate few who won their first and last prep soccer matches. As she closes the book on a standout high school career, she says she'll miss her Barrington teammates and coaches, but she promises to keep the whole experience close to her when she leaves.
"We all would have liked to be playing in that championship game last Saturday night, but even though we didn't get quite there, I've had a great time here at Barrington, and a lot of good times and memories. And that's what it's all about."
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