When Kaila Forster first started working with
two years ago, the Empire (Tucson, Ariz.)
coach saw a well-polished, solid defender.
With every game Octaviano plays, her skills as a center back keep improving.
"She has great anticipation skills and she's able to read the plays well and not only being able to stop the forward attack of the opponent, she also does a very good job of being able to work forward and control her back line when we do have a counter attack," Forster said. "Oftentimes, she's able to make herself an option in the offensive plays when we do move forward."
Reading the defense and knowing when to push up are definitely Octaviano's strong points. Forster said having a sophomore with that instinct is rare.
"The anticipation is something that's really hard to coach, you gain a lot of that through experience playing," Forster said. "Her coming in as a freshman, she had a lot of those qualities. Then her sophomore year, she definitely stood out amongst her teammates and against other teams as well."
The 16-year-old has played nearly every position during her 12 years in organized soccer. She believes defense is the toughest and most reward position.
"We love having her back there," Forster said. "She has skills and is able to clear the ball for us and get to where the ball is actually placed for the midfielders or the forwards to be on the receiving end of it."
After becoming a better player as a freshman, Octaviano felt like she made immense strides in her game as a sophomore. She finished the year with 36 steals.
"I worked on my dribbling skills a lot more and footwork a lot more," said Octaviano, who was named first-team all-conference her first season and a Southern Arizona All-Star this past season. "I felt more comfortable as a defender than any of the other positions but I feel more comfortable now as a midfielder because I've learned a lot more technique."
Octaviano bumped up her on-field communication with her teammates — which is key for a center back — and that made a significant difference in her team's offensive attack this season.
"You have to be able to do runs and pass it," Octaviano said. "Sometimes you take the ball and you dribble it and sometimes you give the ball to another teammate. It's just like working together as a team, which is important."
Octaviano, who was selected by the Arizona Soccer Association Olympic Development Program and competed in Paris at age 14, has upped her high school game by playing club for the Coronado Athletic Club. Through the Sierra Vista, Ariz.-based academy, she is able to play with and against top-notch competition.
"Club is a lot more challenging than high school soccer because there are a lot of girls who are very good — it's not just something they do for fun," Octaviano said. "They're doing it to get a scholarship. They're doing it because they have a great love for the sport. It's way more challenging. It's like playing in a whole different league."
With a 4.0 grade point average, Octaviano isn't a slouch in the classroom. Her perfect grades have her tied for the top spot in the sophomore class.
"I'm such a nerd," Octaviano said. "I really like learning, honestly."
Octaviano takes part in her school's scholar program, which means she has aggressive schedule with all six of her courses being distinguished as honors.
"She sets really high goals for herself and she pushes herself to achieve all of them and especially in her academics as well as on the field in soccer," Forster said.
Soccer season can be challenging for Octaviano as she tries compete at a high level on the field but also stay unblemished with her grades.
"Sometimes I'll just be like, I really need to study or I need to do my homework," Octaviano said. "But soccer is a really good outlet to let out like anxiety and frustration, so I can go there, play and come home and be focused."
Last year, Octaviano was chosen to represent her school along with some classmates for the Jostens Leadership event where she had the chance to listen to inspirational speakers.
A member of the National Honor Society (NHS) and Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) at her school, Octaviano is big into volunteering in her community. Last summer for nine weeks, she donated her time to The Animal League of Green Valley. Octaviano cleaned kennels, fed the animals and took them on walks among other things for about eight hours per week. Octaviano also logged community service hours by walking dogs.
With such an interest in animals, Octaviano plans on pursuing a veterinarian degree in college. When she graduates from high school, she'll actually receive a veterinary tech certification through Empire. She would like to achieve a veterinary PhD, and is looking at attending either Ohio State University or the University of Illinois.
"Animals, I've always liked being around them," Octaviano said. "Kind of like religiously, people have told me animals don't go to heaven and I want them to be able to live like a healthy life here before they die."
Having coached Octaviano for the past two years, it didn't Forster long to realize how special of a person she is on and off the field.
"She definitely puts her mind to something and she won't back down until she gets there," Forster said. "Definitely a drive young lady. … She's going to go on and do some great things."
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