By MATT WAGNER
When Lakeview girls soccer player Alli Pavlik has the ball at her feet, people know all too well what she's thinking - she's heading to the net and taking a swing at the ball.
More often than not, the senior forward succeeds at doing just that. Pavlik has made a name for herself terrorizing area defenses. Coming into the 2013 season, Pavlik had scored 94 goals, and through six matches this season, she has found the back of the net 16 times, which has her tied for the state-lead across all divisions based on statistic complied by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association website. She now has 110 goals in her career.
According to coach Shawn Varley, one other Bulldog has reached the 100-goal plateau in her career - Alicia Metz during the early 1990s.
"Whenever she has the ball at her feet, she wants to score, and she usually takes that responsibility on," Varley said. "She's done it 110 times now, so that says what kind of prolific player she actually is."
Considering the tools Pavlik has at her disposal, it's not too difficult to see why she's been so prolific for the Bulldogs (5-1), who are ranked No. 9 in the OSSCA Division II state poll.
"With any great athlete, they can see a play or two ahead," Varley said. "Often, Alli can see that and maybe even more. That's crucial in being able to score - being able to read the play, think ahead before the play actually happens. She uses her size well. She shields players off, tries to create space that way. Those are tools in her toolbag that makes her such a great player."
For all her talent on the field, Pavlik said she knows her teammates create a majority of her chances, and she attributes a lot of her goal-scoring exploits to her younger sister, Abby.
The junior has manned the central midfield since Alli's sophomore year, and Alli's goal totals have skyrocketed since then. She scored 35 goals in 2011, which was tied for third-best across all divisions, and she scored 38 goals in 2012, which was fifth-best in the state across all divisions.
Alli said she and her sister, a junior, have a great connection and it shows in their link-up play.
Alli said she and her sister, now a junior, have a great connection and it shows in their link-up play.
"Without her, I wouldn't have much of the success I do at soccer because she's phenomenal," Pavlik said. "I give half my credit to her because she plays me those balls, she basically gives it to me on a silver platter - I just put it in the back of the net for her. It's a connection that she and I both share - I know where she's going to play it, she knows how I'm going to get it."
Another player who might open up the field for Alli this season is Rachel Braunegg, a freshman forward of whom Pavlik and Varley have expectations this season and in her career. With teams trying to shutdown Alli, Braunegg can burn opponents and force them to stay honest on both offensive threats.
The freshman has four goals and four assists already this season.
"Definitely people start to key on me, especially because they know that (I score a lot of goals)," Pavlik said. "When they have someone stuck on you the whole game or they start double teaming me, it's hard to handle it sometimes. (Braunegg)'s great to have up there with me. She knows how to play, she knows where to move, what runs to make. To have her up there with me when I get stuck or people do double team me, it's a great thing."
Alli's soccer career will probably continue at the collegiate level, and she said Ohio Dominican is interested and her coach has talked to Youngstown State. As of this moment, she's undecided as to where she will go, but she's weighing all of her options.
"I've e-mailed a few bigger schools and went to a few camps, but right now, it's still in the air," Pavlik said. "It's a tough decision, stressful, but whatever happens, happens. It's life. We'll see."