Cameron Smith

Washington soccer star's shoeless goal sends team to semifinals

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

"Bootless Becca" doesn't quite have the same ring as "Shoeless Joe," but the moniker might fit a Washington girls soccer star just as well. The nickname was well earned last Saturday by Tacoma (Wash.) High's Becca Velasco, who scored the game-winning goal to send the Bears to the state semifinals despite losing her shoe in the middle of a breakaway for the score.

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"It was difficult for a while, but we needed someone to get it done, so I just had to go after it," Velasco told the Seattle Times. "The [Lake Stevens (Wash.) High] girl chipped the back of my ankle, so it took off my shoe and I just ran without it and shot.

"All my teammates were saying I should play without my shoe all the time."

Velasco's goal set the pace in a 2-0 Tacoma victory over Lake Stevens, which never recovered from Velsaco's stunning strike, or a 48th-minute insurance goal from Tacoma's Cassidy Richmond. While it took a complete game to knock off the Vikings, all the talk after the game was about Velasco's equipment malfunction.

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The junior scored after a long, mazy 35-yard run through the Lake Stevens defense. Her final opponent took off the shoe on her left foot, which she shoots with, some 10 yards before she unleashed a strike, but her sock provided more than enough cushioning for the Bears star to provide ample force behind the ball to rip a 10-yard shot past Lake Stevens goalkeeper Kiaya Paulson.

"Maybe she shouldn't ever wear shoes," Tahoma coach Jason Johnson told the Times. "She left her shoe at the 20-yard line and struck it with her bare foot. I haven't seen her strike a ball like that all year.

"That was just absolute effort for us, and Lake Stevens is a good, good side. That was what happens when we play hard."

Johnson might be on to something. We're not sure if the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association would allow it, but a shoeless midfielder sure seems like a surefire high school cult figure.

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