"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.
"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.
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.