Sophomore Grace Bouton battles on the soccer field

Anna Compagno

Sophomore Grace Bouton is already creating a name for herself on the soccer field. Making the varsity team as a freshman, Bouton has stood out from her opponents and her peers. Although she suffered a concussion in the beginning of the season that limited her to only participating in seven games, she’s scored a total of 12 goals (averaging 1.4 goals per game), according to Maxpreps.com. She is Redwood’s highest goal scorer, tied with senior Hannah Halford. After high school, she will continue her soccer career in the fall of 2021 at University of California Santa Barbara.

According to Bouton, she was inspired to pick up a soccer ball after watching her brother, senior Cooper Bouton, in his soccer games.  

“[Cooper] definitely got me into soccer and we used to play a lot together when we were younger, but once I started playing club I didn’t play with him as much,” Bouton said.

Bouton stands on the soccer field during practice.
Bouton stands on the soccer field during practice.

At age five, she joined Ross Valley Soccer Club, her first league team. From there, she moved on to a more advanced club league in the fourth grade called Central Marin Soccer. At age nine, she started playing for Mill Valley Soccer Club, where she started to compete at an age level above her own.

Outside of Redwood’s soccer season, Bouton participates in a more competitive travel league, Marin FC. Not only is she playing for one of the top teams, but she’s competing a year above her age level. She is currently on the 01 Blue Marin FC travel team, a top team usually comprised of  juniors.

Junior Georgia Bennett has been competing for both the Redwood Varsity and Marin FC’s teams alongside Bouton for the past three years.

“Playing with someone who is younger than you and committed at such a high level pushes me to want to be a better soccer player,” Bennett said.

According to Bennett, Bouton always finds splits through her defenders and open spaces in order to get open, so she can receive the ball. Being the center forward position, it is very important that Bouton is an outlet for her teammates, so she can receive the ball and alleviate the pressure of the defense. One of her many specialites is holding off the defense behind her in order to scope out the field to logically plan her next move.

“I would say that my role on [Redwood’s] team is not being a huge scorer. I usually distribute or get the ball and hold it, then lay it off to other players. I prefer to pass then to shoot, but obviously scoring is fun,” Bouton said.

Scrimmaging in practice, Bouton runs down the field.
Scrimmaging in practice, Bouton runs down the field.

Girls’ varsity soccer coach Mattias Kodzoman has been coaching Bouton for the past two years. According to Kodzoman, one of the reasons Bouton is so successful is due to her advanced understanding of the game and determination to keep improving.

“Some players that are really good think they can get away with being lazy, having a big head or having a bit of an attitude. Grace is none of that. She’s a very talented soccer player, works hard and is also super humble, which are the key ingredients for being a standout player,” Kodzoman said.

Bouton’s passion toward soccer and tough work ethic carries into her Marin FC season.

“Club is a lot more passing and skillful [play]. High school is a lot more about competition. There’s a lot of skill too, but they’re two different kinds of play,” Bouton said.

Although Bouton enjoys playing in intense rivalry games during the high school season, she prefers club soccer because it allows her to develop her skills more.

According to Bouton, during her season on U14, her coach Josh Kalkstein changed her position from a midfielder to a center forward.

“He helped me develop my game and pushed me out of my comfort zone, which was a big step for me. My current Marin FC coach, Tyler Gottschalk, has been helping me shoot more and turn on players as opposed to just laying it off,” Bouton said.

Gaining control of the ball, Bouton prepares to kick.
Gaining control of the ball, Bouton prepares to kick.

Committed to UCSB, Bouton has been inspired to continue to play soccer in college after playing with her advanced teammates.

“I’ve had a really good experience on this team. Freshman year it was really cool to play with Lauren Foehr who’s committed to USD,” Bouton said.

According to Bouton, smaller schools such as East Carolina were talking to her, but ultimately she chose UCSB due to the academics and location.

“I love Santa Barbara as a town and the campus is obviously insanely pretty. It’s was far enough away from home, but not across the country which was nice,” Bouton said.

Bouton is only a sophomore, giving her two more years to keep enhancing her game during her high school career. So far, she has played a total of 17 MCAL games in the past two seasons. She has scored an impressive 17 goals and an average of 0.6 assists per game according to Max Preps. Bouton scores almost half of her team’s average 3.9 goals per game. Standing out is hard enough, and she has already done that within her first two seasons.

“Grace is always giving her best effort and looking to improve her game, and she is just going to continue to become better,” Kodzoman said.