FARMINGTON— As a sophomore last season, Makeyan Kalmbach played in all 21 games for the Piedra Vista girls soccer team, but she scored only three goals.
Over the offseason, something clicked for Kalmbach. Just eight games into the 2015 season, the junior already has seven goals, the most on the team.
"She was a girl that I knew had speed, but didn't always show it," PV coach Adam Huff said. "Last year, she was a little inconsistent. She wasn't sure what her role was or how to use her body. So she really worked hard this summer and started to figure out the consistency part."
Kalmbach, or "Kiwi," as her coaches and teammates call her, continued her breakout season during Saturday's home game against Del Norte. The midfielder scored twice in that contest, including a nice redirect goal off of a corner kick.
She said crisp passing from her teammates helped make her two-goal effort in Saturday's 5-0 win possible.
"With help from the other midfielders and the forwards, we had a lot of connecting passes," Kalmbach said of Saturday's performance. "(My teammates) made some really good crosses, and I just finished."
Piedra Vista is off to a sterling 6-2 start this season.
Kalmbach has contributed to that record, but she hasn't been alone. LisaMarie Jones and Hannah Sayyeau have combined to score 11 goals, and one of Kalmbach's fellow midfielders — Natalie Martin — already has nine assists this season.
Kalmbach said she has developed a lot of chemistry with PV's top offensive attackers this year.
"We're really growing the more we play together and practice together," she said. "We're becoming better friends, too, which is helping us improve as we go along."
Improvement has been a recurring theme for Kalmbach over the course of the past year.
Not only has she utilized her deceptive speed more, but she has also found ways to use her lanky, 5-foot-9½-inch frame to her advantage.
"She's gotten stronger, that's a huge thing," Huff said. "She was already a tall kid for high school soccer, but she's figured out how to use her body more. She's able to use her size and strength to kind of overpower opposing wings and get steals in transition. And then she's turned those steals into scoring opportunities."
Generally, Huff said, Kalmbach just has a better feel for the game this year.
"She just gets it now. In her normal game play, she's able to find her spots," Huff said. "She knows when to cross, when to shoot, and the impressive thing is she's scoring all these goals from a wing spot. She's really improved in the finishing area, too."
Soccer has been a passion of Kalmbach's since she was introduced to it when flipping through a magazine at age 7. She started playing at about that age and was coached through the years by her father and her best friend's father. She said their coaching — and even their criticism — motivated her to improve.
"I really got to learn a lot by listening to them," Kalmbach said. "They really did a lot to help me get better. They never sugarcoated anything they said, either."
All of these improvements have translated to a tremendous month of soccer for Kalmbach, but the best may be yet to come. Huff believes "the sky's the limit" for her, as she still has more than a year-and-a-half of varsity soccer left to play.
"I think she's gained a lot of confidence from that one year on varsity, so on top of the strength and speed, it's the mental part that has also improved for her," Huff said. "She's already growing into the vocal, leader-type of role, and that'll only continue into her senior year."
While high school graduation is far into the future, Kalmbach said she wants to attend an out-of-state college and would like to keep playing soccer. In the meantime, though, she has a few things she'd like to work on.
"I would like to get better touches on the ball. I don't feel like I get really good touches on the ball at times," she said. "I also want to improve on passing, so we can build and connect and score even more."
A closer look: Makeyan Kalmbach
1. Favorite team?
“The U.S. women's soccer team.”
2. Favorite athlete?
3. Favorite food?
4. Favorite movie?
5. Favorite subject in school?
6. Least favorite subject?
7. Biggest fear?
“Getting seriously injured and not being able to play soccer.”
8. Do you play any other sports?
“Not right now, but coach Huff is making me run track in the spring.”
9. What is the first thing you would do with $1 million?
“I'd probably travel the world with my parents.”
10. Do you have any pregame rituals?
“I have a handshake I do with LisaMarie Jones.”