Watching Freeburg's Lindsey Ledbetter playing soccer can be an enjoyable experience – if you're not an opposing defender.
A senior forward, Ledbetter had 21 goals and four assists for the Midgets, who were 10-4-2 heading into Monday's home game against Gibault.
"In the last two years, she has greatly improved her finishing skills, making her a great offensive weapon," said Freeburg coach Julie Klazynski. "Lindsey puts tremendous pressure on herself to score. She truly feels that it is her responsibility and when she doesn't, she gets very frustrated with herself.
"She sprained her left ankle in the Waterloo game (a 3-1 win on April 6) and has been playing on it since – she just fights through the pain. She expects a lot from her teammates, but expects even more from herself. Our defense loves to practice against her because she is such a pain to defend."
Ledbetter's value to the team goes well beyond scoring goals.
"Being a senior, I have to take a leadership role," she said. "Sometimes it's hard, but you've got to do it. I'm very vocal on the field, so that helps a lot."
Ledbetter started playing recreational soccer at age 5 and was 8 when she began playing for coach Herb Foerster and the Lady Knights Soccer Club.
"We changed to Scott Gallagher and then went back to the Knights," said Ledbetter, who recently finished her last year with the club. "I stopped for a while when I was going into seventh grade, but I started training again (with Foerster) going into my freshman year.
"I've played with our two center midfielders, Jill Oberholtzer and Paige Racer, since we were little. Watching us play is really cool because we don't even need to talk, but we can move the ball so quick through the midfield. This year there are eight of us that have played club together, so that really helps."
As a junior, Ledbetter became a full-time starter and led the team with 24 goals.
"I was really happy about last season because I broke out of my shell," she said. "I felt like I had something to prove. I felt more comfortable.
"I've pretty much always been a forward, but I ran track in grade school and I'm really fast. I'm able to get around a lot of defenders."
Ledbetter's athletic ability is evident anytime she's near the ball.
"Another unique thing about Lindsey is that often times you see forwards who go down a lot in or around the box, and sometimes it is justified, but sometimes it appears that they are just getting frustrated and looking for a foul call," Klazynski said. "Lindsey is almost never on the ground. Because of her agility, I have literally seen her jump three feet in the air to get over a defender going for a tackle and come out the other side with the ball. She is a really fun player to watch."
Freeburg posted a 14-8 record in 2010, beating Breese Central to claim the first regional title in school history before losing to Columbia in a Class 1A sectional semifinal.
"We have the potential to go really far this year," Ledbetter said. "Our passing and shooting are strengths and we do a good job of talking on the field because we're really close."
Next season, Ledbetter will play soccer at McKendree University.
"During my junior year I had my heart set on SEMO (Southeast Missouri State University), but I changed my mind," said Ledbetter, who is undecided on a major. "I had a couple community colleges looking at me, but they were all far away.
"Soccer was a big factor in my decision. I didn't want to be too far from home, but I didn't want to be too close. McKendree is not that far, but I'll be living there."