Leader of the PackPublished 8:38pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Head coach Ed Rodriguez knew minutes into the first game of the 2012 season he had a special talent on his hands. His young sophomore midfielder had already deposited a shot in the back of the opposition’s net, and the Pam Pack girls soccer team was off to a great start.
Just minutes later, the Washington goalie sustained an injury that would sideline her for the remainder of the game. Then, that same elusive midfielder, Alana Jefferson, was called upon to take over in goal, where she made a collection of game-winning saves to lock down the win.
Two years later, Jefferson is the captain of the Washington girls soccer team, a college bound athlete and the undisputed leader of the Pack.
“She’s been a leader on the field ever since her sophomore year,” Rodriguez said. “She’s very dedicated. I believe in leading by example, and she has a great example, work ethic on the field, dedication and desire to win. That’s what I look for in a captain.”
During practice, Jefferson gives maximum effort, winning every sprint, conquering every drill like it’s the final minutes of a state playoff game and critiquing her team’s overall performance in the huddle before heading home. On the field, the Pam Pack offense seems to flow through Jefferson’s seemingly perpetual motion. She has the ability to locate the open teammate on a break and execute a crisp, well-placed pass through traffic.
It’s that distinctive ability to anticipate what has yet to transpire that makes her a threat not only on the pitch, but on the hardwood as well. Jefferson is also the starting point guard for the Washington basketball team, where her instrumental court vision allows her to locate teammates like Sheema Blount, Shona Midgette and Abby Walker in transition. Jefferson is also a member of the Pam Pack volleyball and cross country teams.
Despite her role in head coach Allison Jones offensive scheme, Jefferson is most comfortable on the soccer field, where she scored 22 goals in 21 games for the Pam Pack last season.
“Part of it was the position I was in,” Jefferson said. “I wasn’t a center midfielder last year. I was a left wing, which is kind of like a left forward, so I got to go up top a lot. We had a senior that graduated last year, Emily Bohn, and she gave me a lot of opportunities to score.”
Rodriguez credits her success to being ambidextrous with her feet. “She can strike with the left or the right. It’s not like other players who favor one foot; she can hit it both ways and with power. She’s really into her game and can spin the ball well. She has good speed and quickness.”
Jefferson has natural ability in terms of her field vision, but most of her technical skill comes from hours of hard work and dedication to the game. Last year, she earned a spot on the Olympic Development Program State Team (ODP), a squad dedicated to bringing local talent to the national spotlight and facilitating players’ selection to U.S. National Team programs. Jefferson was coached by the best and matched up against the area’s top talent pool.
“They were a really good set of coaches,” Jefferson said. “They knew a lot, and I learned a lot from the experience. It was really interesting and really challenging because you’re in this pool of people who are just as good or better than you are. It was really a challenge for me.”
Jefferson also attended soccer camps over the summer at North Carolina State University and Campbell University early in her high school career, and spends her springs playing travel soccer. After playing for New Bern Coastal United in 2011 and 2012, Jefferson spent last fall in the midfield for the Pitt-Greenville Soccer Association, or PGSA, traveling team.
This fall however, Jefferson will be heading to a new club, playing under the direction of her ODP coaching staff at Queens University in Charlotte. While Rodriguez has coached a handful of college-bound male soccer players, Jefferson will be the first female soccer player he sends to the collegiate ranks.
“We’ve had some girls here who bring a lot of what Alana brings in the past. The difference is a lot of those girls actually had more height,” Rodriguez said. “Alana has been able to do what she’s done without being the tallest player. Alana does it purely with heart and dedication.
“When her season is done and if she keeps playing like she’s played, she’ll finish in the top-three in scoring in the history of Washington High School.”
On Monday, Jefferson and the Pam Pack face off against Camden County at 5 p.m. on their home turf, and then host rival Conley beginning at 6 p.m. the following day.