Twelfth-year Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School girls soccer coach Rob Kurtz says he is usually a good conversationalist. But when senior Angela White, a three-year starting goalkeeper, is standing across from him, Kurtz said it’s best to keep the topic to soccer.
“She is incredibly intellectual. I can’t speak with her on many topics so nine out of 10 times I keep it to soccer or technology,” Kurtz said. “The background knowledge she has on topics she knows about, it’s amazing. But that’s the whole mystique of her. She’s just so interesting to watch.”
White’s cerebral approach to her position and a tremendous skill set distinguishes her from her peers.
White, an aspiring astronomer, is already in her second year of physics classes.
Studying the subject has changed her perspective on everything, including the sport she’s been playing since she was 6 years old.
“I’m thinking in a physics frame of mind,” White said. “Saving the goal is all about the angle you have relative to the shooter and the goal. If you’re trying to deflect the ball, it’s where the ball hits your hand and how hard is the force in which its coming toward you. I see that clearer now, and break it down.”
Playing for a four-time defending state champion squad, White is often overlooked. The program has had several high-caliber players graduate in recent years. Former U.S. U-17 National Team midfielder Alex Doll and Villanova (Pa.) University player Vic Gersh headline the alumni base.
Yet White’s teammates voted her last season’s Most Valuable Player on a team that included talented field players such as Hannah Levin and Eliza Doll.
The accolade was unquestioned, according to Kurtz. The Barons know how vital White has been to their past three state championship runs. She’s gone about her business humbly without any need for recognition.
Her ability to shut opponents out became especially important last fall when the Barons experienced a lack of scoring power.
“You’re confident when she is in goal that you’re going to win. All the time,” Kurtz said. “Even if the ball gets past our defense, you still have to get past her.”
B-CC has only given up three goals in six games and has already recorded four shutouts this fall.
Saving penalty kicks has become White’s specialty. During a 1-0 win over Northwest Sept. 19, White saved a penalty kick.
Kurtz said she has always been his goalkeeper of choice in penalty kicks. He brought her in during overtime of the Barons’ 2010 penalty kick victory over Winston Churchill in the Class 4A West Region final just so she would be in if the game went to a shootout.
White also came up big in last fall’s state final win over Severna Park in penalty kicks.
Most goalkeepers dread a shootout, Kurtz said. But White has a confidence about her during pressure situations.
Perhaps it’s because she doesn’t feel the heat at all.
“I like astronomy because I love the feeling of insignificance,” White said. “That kind of opposes the feeling I get in soccer so it balances me out. When it comes down to penalty kicks, I just think of how big the universe is and it’s calming. In the universe, it doesn’t really matter what happens [in a soccer game].”
The most remarkable aspect of White’s goalkeeping could be what she has done with her own natural talent, Kurtz said.
Unlike most top goalkeepers, she hasn’t spent hours working with individual coaches. Instead, she opts to teach and train herself. She does a lot of research, Kurtz said.
“It’s happening more now, but they didn’t always put the best athlete in goal. Whoever made that decision with her at some point, I’m very thankful,” Kurtz said. “She [has] incredible hands. She has incredible technique on high shots. Her foot skills have improved. She has a great knack for the game and she is quick off her line.”
Though White received interest from college soccer programs, including the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University, she said she is comfortable closing the door on her competitive soccer career after high school.
Kurtz also said she would’ve been a great asset to a college program, but he has no doubt she is destined for greatness elsewhere.
“Regardless of whether or not she plays soccer in college, she is going to have some kind of impact on the world. And that’s what I’m most proud of,” Kurtz said. “She is so internally driven and has this way about her. When she tells me she might be an astronaut, I don’t for a split-second think that she won’t be.”