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Schott on goal: Cal striker Laura Schott takes aim at Berkeley women's soccer record

30 August 2002

By Bonnie Azab Powell, Public Affairs

BERKELEY - Senior Laura Schott is more goal-oriented than most of her UC Berkeley classmates. And this star forward for the Cal women's soccer team has her eye on seven goals in particular.

Laura Schott shoots
Senior Laura Schott scores so often that most teams have two players shadow her, and "she gets taken down more than any other player," says Coach Boyd. Photo by Patrick J. Merrill

That's how many balls the aptly named Schott needs to hit the net with this season in order to break the Berkeley women's record for career goals. Soccer titan Joy Fawcett (née Biefeld), a World Cup and Olympics veteran now with the San Diego Spirit club team, set Cal's record in 1989 with 133 points and 55 goals. (A goal counts for two points; an assist, one.) Going into this fall's season, Schott has 110 points and 49 goals.

"In my least-scoring season I had 11 goals, so I hope to come up with seven," says the pony-tailed Schott as she mows methodically through a large Caesar salad after a two-hour practice. "As long as I don't get injured," she adds, rapping hard on the wooden table.

While head coach Kevin Boyd, who's entering his sixth year with the women's team, also expects her to surpass Fawcett's total easily, he emphasizes that it's no small feat. "Laura is one of the most proficient scorers I've ever worked with. Still, in all my years here I never thought anyone would break Joy's record," he says. "The disparity in talent when Joy came through was just spectacular." He consults the historical records and starts calling out game scores — 6-0, 5-0, 6-1 — showing just how much Cal dominated the competition in Fawcett's day.


Schott, meanwhile, is making her stand on a much tougher playing field. Although the Golden Bears have made it to the NCAA tournament the past four years in a row — the first such streak in school history — they haven't advanced past the second round since 1988. Last year, Cal finished fifth in the PAC-10 conference. Schott, however, led the PAC-10 for the second season for the highest number of goals scored. In 2000 she tied Fawcett's record of most goals in a season (23).

"Laura has a rare combination of tremendous athleticism, speed, and balance — three terrific traits that work together," praises Boyd. "Generally, someone as fast as Laura has a tendency to get a lot of one-on-ones and not be able to put the ball away. But she has just incredible composure. Once she gets a chance at a shot, regardless of how much chaos is going on around her, she's capable of relaxing her mind and body and getting the ball in the goal."

Staying calm and focused on the ball is "not so easy when there are 20 people flying around you," Schott points out, but she can't explain how she does it — she has no pre-game rituals, lucky socks, or the Buddhist background of Tiger Woods. "I just try to not freak out," she says simply.

Laura Schott close-up
The 21-year-old Schott has been playing soccer since she was 6; she won her first championship at 13. Photo by BAP

Called "Lo" by her teammates, Schott has collected almost as many honors as she has goals. Last year she was a finalist for the Hermann and the Missouri Athletic Club awards, which honor the nation's top male and female college soccer players. As a freshman and a junior she received Cal's Most Valuable Offensive Player award. The PAC-10, the National Soccer Coaches of America Association (NSCAA), and Soccer Buzz have all picked her for their first teams at various points. She's played for the United States' under-21 national team — for which her goal and three assists helped the U.S. bring home the Nordic Cup trophy last July — as well as its under-18 team.

Look back to her high-school record, and it's safe to say she was never picked last for a scrimmage: she led Jesuit High School in Wilsonville, Oregon, to four straight state championships (including 92 consecutive wins), was on Parade magazine's high school All-America list, and was named NSCAA's Oregon Player of the Year as a junior and senior.

Yet despite all these trophies, Schott says that breaking Fawcett's career record "would be an incredible honor." The fact that the 34-year-old Fawcett has continued to dominate her sport while delivering three children has clearly impressed Schott. And like Fawcett, Schott hopes that in the spring she'll be plucked for one of the eight pro teams that make up the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA).

Again, Coach Boyd thinks her goal won't present much of a challenge. "Her chances for pro are very good. She's definitely got the strength and speed to play at that level," he says. "Add the fact that she's quite a goal scorer, and I think a number of teams are going to want her."

Schott would love to play for the San Jose CyberRays, but says she'd go anywhere that drafted her. If she does take the spring semester off to play professionally, she'll return to Berkeley in fall 2003 to finish off her double major in political science and mass communications, in which she maintains a B+ average. Should she turn pro, she would no longer be playing for Cal that semester.

"I don't know what I would do with all the extra time," muses Schott. "There are a lot of things I'd like to explore." An avid hiker and occasional golfer, she's started taking photographs of the views from the Berkeley hills.

She certainly doesn't have much free time now. The two-hour practices that start every day at either 10 or 10:30 a.m. and the Friday afternoon games have made class scheduling a headache. "There have been some film courses that I really wanted to take but couldn't, like all the ones with discussion sessions that meet on Fridays," she says, a little wistfully.


"Mia Hamm has a bigger building on the Nike campus than either Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. That's just amazing to me."

Only a little, however. "I'm kind of at a point right now where I'm exploring other things besides soccer, and I have to compromise," she shrugs. "But I think it's worth it."

Schott laced up her first pair of cleats when she was six. The only soccer player in her immediate family, she began getting serious around age 13, when her club team won the state championship. Since then, pretty much every summer and vacation has been spent in the pursuit of the black-and-white ball. When she's not playing on a club team or for Cal, Schott teaches preteen soccer camps.

Women's soccer has tripled in visibility since she was the age of the girls she coaches, she says, and that shift can be traced to a single sports bra. The U.S. women's soccer team won the 1991 World Cup and the Olympics in 1996 without the world paying too much attention. It took Brandi Chastain exuberantly stripping off her jersey after nailing the winning penalty shot for the 1999 World Cup before the U.S. team landed on front pages all over the nation. As Chastain made the rounds of talk shows and Nike signed up soccer star Mia Hamm for an ad campaign, girls started fastening their shin guards in record numbers.

"The coverage of women's soccer has just grown and grown," marvels Schott. "Now Mia Hamm has a bigger building on the Nike campus than either Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. That's just amazing to me."

Schott hasn't planned her life beyond the goal of turning pro. "I still have a lot to learn about what I want to do," she says. "I'm not competitive in every area of my life, but I definitely need something to do that I can be the best at. Soccer just happens to be where all my energy has gone."

With her composure and grace under pressure, it's safe to say that this 21-year-old will put away anything she decides to take a shot at.