has come a long way on the soccer field in just a few short years.
When Jason Prenovost started coaching Pryor on a club team in middle school, the young player was still finding his way and realizing what he was good at.
"When he first came out, he was going to be a goalkeeper," Prenovost said. "He played a little goalkeeper and it was pretty evident that he was better on the field than he was in goal."
It was a good move Pryor didn't stay between the net. That's because he's been a force offensively in his first two seasons at
Stadium (Tacoma, Wash.)
and on his club team with Washington Premier.
Pryor's development as a center midfielder has been gradual each year he plays the sport.
"He's always been athletic and kind of big and strong, but he's been making huge steps," said Prenovost, who coaches Pryor on the Washington Premier 02 Black Team. "It was evident early he was going to be a pretty good forward."
As a freshman at Stadium, Pryor tallied 10 goals and nine assists and followed that up this season as a sophomore with 11 goals and 11 assists.
At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Pryor has great size for a soccer player. His lanky figure is advantageous on the field.
"It's like a physical presence that helps, winning headers and stuff," said Pryor, who has played soccer since he was 5. "Longer legs for going for balls."
Starting as a ninth-grader and playing against guys who were three years older was a real eye-opener for Pryor.
"We were actually ranked 13th in the nation and our team had 14 seniors, so I was playing with pretty much like grown men right away," Pryor said. "It was a huge step."
Since Pryor was on a team filled with upperclassmen, he wasn't expected to put up big numbers and be a main scoring option. That took all the pressure off of him.
By his sophomore campaign, the 16-year-old was ready to play a larger role on his team.
"I took physical steps. I started to go to the gym a lot and put on a lot of weight," said Pryor, who was named first team all-league as a center midfielder this season. "I also matured and just got smarter with soccer. I was more of a leader this year because we lost all those seniors."
Prenovost has coached plenty of solid soccer players in his time with Washington Premier. But Pryor has some unique abilities.
"I've been coaching for a long, long time and there are a lot of forwards that are fast, a lot of forwards that are tricky and they use their speed and they use their advanced development physically to score goals and be dangerous up front," Prenovost said. "One of the things that intrigued me about him was at a young age is you just don't find a lot of guys who can play with their back to the goal — that can play big and find people as well.
Along with his strong play in high school, Pryor has also flourished at the club level. This season, he has helped the Washington Premier 02 Black Team jump into the national spotlight. The squad has playing well all season and after a strong showing at the Las Vegas Player Showcase in early March, Pryor and his teammates qualified for the US Youth Soccer National Championships.
"It was probably the hardest times I went through because I was sick for the first part of qualifying and still played and scored four goals in freezing weather," Pryor said. "It took great team performances and grit. The second part of qualifying in Vegas was against very hard teams and I came up in the clutch."
Pryor scored both of his team's goals in a 2-1 victory over Tuzos Academy, which competed in the national title match a season ago, to advance to the national championships.
Washington Premier is one of eight teams that will compete for a national title on July 24-29 in Frisco, Texas.
"I think it's going to be a great experience and very tough," Pryor said. "It is the biggest games of my life."
After scoring 25 goals and 12 assists at the club level last year, Pryor upped his game this season with 32 goals and 13 assists.
Playing club has been a difference maker for Pryor.
"It's definitely made me the player that I am now," Pryor said. "It just gets better every year the players I play against and play with."
Pryor is already starting to garner interest from college soccer programs. The University of Pennsylvania has reached out to Pryor and other schools will soon follow for the junior-to-be.
"It's a little early," Prenovost said. "I expect that's going to start coming. He will get looks because he has size, he has game. No doubt in my mind he's going to continue to get looks. He's a good player."
Prenovost believes Pryor can be an elite player who could start getting high Division I offers next season.
"I think Braeden's right where he should be and he's getting better each day," Prenovost said. "I have high expectations for him, but there's still a lot of work to do."
Pryor will continue to push himself on and off the soccer field to become a better player. His ultimate goal is to make the soccer team at Stanford and get a shot at playing professionally.
Pryor certainly has the grades — he holds a 3.9 grade point average — to get into Stanford. If he keeps up his prowess on the soccer field, he could be getting pursued in no time by the Cardinal coaching staff.
Along with school activities, Pryor volunteers with the Boys & Girls Club of America. Last fall, Pryor coached a U-7 soccer team. He took time out of his busy schedule to coach the 15 players on the team in practice once a week and attend games.
"It was fun for me because I was able to make connections with the kids just because I really like soccer and I wanted them to like soccer as much as I did," Pryor said.
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