Courtesy COC Sports Information
“It was a volley. I think it was a corner kick,” said College of the Canyons sophomore forward Mari Kneisel about the play that cemented her legacy at the college.
“The ball bounced a couple times, I was right there and I just hit it. It was simple,” she explained. “I knew when it came to me, ‘this is it.'”
The ‘it’ was Kneisel’s 37th career goal as a Cougar, which came on an assist from sophomore midfielder Astrid Perez in the 19th minute and broke the COC women’s soccer program’s all-time scoring record.
The previous career-best mark of 36 was set by COC sophomore forward Stacey Atwater in 2013.
The score was Kneisel’s second of the game, but she wasn’t done yet.
The former Canyon High School standout, and defending Western State Conference Player of the Year, finished the match with a hat trick to give her a career total of 38 goals and propel the Cougars to a 5-2 conference victory at Antelope Valley College on Tuesday.
“We’re all very proud of Mari and the record is well deserved,” said COC women’s soccer head coach Justin Lundin. “She’s such a meticulous worker, and has really turned into a goal-scoring machine. To see her skill set and confidence grow from year one to year two has been tremendous.”
Kneisel’s assault on the record books began in 2014 as the freshman helped lead COC to a fourth straight WSC, South title while netting 20 goals in the process. Her 15 goals that season also led the team.
Earlier this season Kneisel also became the program’s all time points leader, surpassing another record previously held by Atwater. Kneisel currently has 99 points in 36 career games played.
Atwater, a former star at Saugus High School, still holds the COC single-season scoring record of 27 goals, prompting some to assume that record would be next on Kneisel’s list.
But the ultra-talented sophomore seems more focused on the accomplishments of the team.
“Just play,” she responded when asked ‘what’s next?’ “Just play, no pressure, just have fun, and score as many as I can,” Kneisel continued. “I don’t think anyone can touch us when we play well. But it’s about being consistent.”
As for her record-breaking celebration?
“I always eat steak after I score a goal,” said Kneisel. “So my parents made me steak.”
Canyons (8-1-5, 6-0-3) is now unbeaten in its last 10 games, having won four of the last five contests. COC has not lost since a 1-0 defeat to Santa Barbara on Sept. 18.
The Cougars are currently one game behind L.A. Valley College in the WSC, South standings.
However, Canyons controls its own destiny with upcoming home matches with Santa Monica at 4 p.m. Friday and L.A. Valley at 3 p.m. Tuesday.