FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT Evan O’Kelly Director of Communications O: (406) 657-2130 E: email@example.com Wednesday, October 19, 2016 Through injury and adversity, Warren a warrior for Yellowjacket women’s soccer
Overcoming an early-season injury and scoring in each of her first two games returning to the field, senior forward Hayley Warren represents an inspirational figure on MSUB’s women’s soccer team. MSUB SPORTS – Hayley Warren entered her senior season on the Montana State University Billings women’s soccer team motivated to hit the ground running. The forward was determined to get back into the scoring column, and though she played a key role in the Yellowjackets’ offense as a junior in 2015, she had yet to score her first goal with MSUB. This season was going to be different. Warren committed herself to entering fall training camp in excellent shape, and knew she would be counted on as a leader for a youthful squad. She had her focus set on finding the back of the net, something she had done 49 times in her two seasons at Shoreline Community College before transferring to MSUB.
Blazing through early-season training and establishing herself as a starter with preseason matches fast approaching, Warren was set to prove that her success could carry over to the NCAA Division II level. Starting up top in the Yellowjackets’ first preseason exhibition match against Rocky Mountain College on Aug. 20, a hard tackle brought Warren to the turf and the pain in her foot immediately became all she could focus on. Warren was devastated. Again, she was going to have to wait. “It was heartbreaking, because I worked hard for six months to make sure I was going to come back strong,” the senior from Maple Valley, Wash., said. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could have a strong impact on the team, but to get hurt and not be able to help the team was extremely difficult.” Over the next month, Warren was consumed by rehabilitation exercises and working with MSUB athletic trainer Patrick Behre to maintain her fitness level while not being able to participate in practice. She missed the team’s first four regular-season matches, but with a similar level of dedication that she put into her off-season regimen, her prospects of returning to the pitch earlier than expected began to improve. “With the injury I had I could have been out for several months, so being able to come back was a pleasant surprise,” Warren commented. By the time the final non-conference match of the fall season arrived on Sept. 18 against College of Idaho, Warren had been fully cleared to return to action. Whether she realized it or not, her long wait was about to end. Subbing into the game in the 60th minute with her team trailing 3-0, Warren ran onto the field with the intention of making a statement. Less than four minutes later, everyone heard her loud and clear. Running onto a loose ball inside the goal box, Warren was sandwiched by the Coyotes’ goalkeeper and a defender, and upon being tackled was awarded a penalty kick. Though she was just five minutes into her season, everyone knew it was her shot to take. When she buried the ball into the back of the net, Warren immediately felt the pressure ease off of her shoulders. “That goal meant a lot, and it really boosted my confidence back up again,” Warren said. “I had some issues finding the back of the net the past season, so to finally score again got me back into my natural groove. It made me want to fight that much harder to keep scoring.” Continuing to score is exactly what Warren did, as she drove home the Yellowjackets’ first goal in a 3-1 win over Western Oregon University in the team’s next game four days later. Warren’s second finish of the year came on an assist
from sophomore Alycia Wright, a player who the senior has connected well with in their two seasons together at MSUB. “Alycia came into college naturally ready to play soccer, but at the beginning she just struggled with her confidence a bit,” Warren said regarding the team’s leading scorer with six goals in 2015. “I just tried to help her adjust to the new environment of being in college, and we have gotten really close off of the field. She has been one of my go-to people, and I have been that for her as well.” Though Warren’s track record as a goal scorer preceded her, and has begun to shone through with the ‘Jackets, her offensive mindset is a relatively recent development within Warren’s lifetime as a soccer player. TOGETHER FROM THE START Warren’s earliest soccer memories date back to when she was four years old, when she began a partnership with a pair of teammates and a coach that would last through her high-school career. What started out as youth recreational soccer for coach Matt Clark turned into a bond that ultimately shaped Warren into the player she is today. “From the time I was four until I turned 18 I had the same coach, and I was teammates with McKenzie Bolton and Francine Lowe,” Warren said regarding her early teammates. “McKenzie and I played at Shoreline together for two years as well, and we are still very close today.”
Warren with lifelong teammates McKenzie Bolton and Francine Lowe, and coach Matt Clark (top), and with her original youth team (bottom).
Growing up learning both volleyball and soccer, by the time Warren reached eighth grade she had a tough decision to make regarding which sport to pursue. Ultimately deciding that she enjoyed the fierce competition associated with soccer, Warren set her sights on winning a spot on a highly-competitive girls soccer team at Tahoma Senior High School.
Towering over her peers, by the time Warren had grown into her 6-foot-1 frame she was a natural choice as a defender when she made varsity as a junior. By her senior season, she had developed into a first-team all-state outside back, and she began to shift her focus on continuing to play after her prep career. A broken leg after her senior high-school season prevented Warren from playing with her club team, and in part prompted her decision to begin her college career at Shoreline CC. It was with the Dolphins that Warren underwent a major, yet natural transition from being a defender to being an offensive player. “My coach liked my height and how aggressive I was, and I was excited about changing positions,” Warren said. “Even as a center back I liked to dribble up the field and try to get assists. Being up front and having the chance to score was exciting.” Not only did the move pay off for the Dolphins, but Warren’s newfound success as a goal scorer caught the attention of MSUB head coach Wojtek Krakowiak. “We were looking for a forward, and I found out that she was the MVP of her league after scoring so many goals,” Krakowiak said. “She has definitely adjusted to the pace of play at this level and came in this season really fit.”
Despite her success at Shoreline, Warren wasn’t fully sold on continuing her career after her sophomore season. After her initial visit to MSUB however, her interest in competing in the sport she loved for two more seasons was sparked. “When I met the team on my visit I really liked all of them, and team chemistry is a big thing for me,” Warren said. “I also liked how the campus was bigger than Shoreline’s but not overwhelming. Class sizes were important and I knew I could get a lot of help and work closely with professors at MSUB.” BONDING WITH THE ‘JACKETS “She makes her presence known on the field, demands the ball, and communicates well. She works her butt off every time she is out there, and I know I can always look up to her to work hard.” – Junior Jessica Spang on Senior Hayley Warren. Jessica Spang had just put together a very promising freshman season, scoring two goals and adding three assists in her debut with the ‘Jackets in 2014. When Warren arrived on the scene at the outset of her sophomore season, Spang couldn’t help but feel intimidated. “Just hearing about all the goals she scored and the fact that she played the same position as me, I was a little nervous to meet her,” Spang recalled. Any initial feelings of hesitation were alleviated upon Spang’s first encounter with Warren, as the two became close right away and developed into a formidable part of the Yellowjackets’ attack up front. While their relationship off the field strengthened every day, it displayed just as strongly on the pitch throughout the season.
Jessica Spang (right) celebrates with Warren after her second straight game with a goal earlier this fall.
On Sept. 24, 2015 in a home game against Western Oregon, the ‘Jackets found themselves in a 1-0 hole at halftime. Spang and Warren took it upon themselves to lead the comeback effort, with the former scoring two times – both on assists by Warren in the eventual 2-1 win.
“Jessica was naturally the first person I connected with here, and our personalities meshed really well even before we started playing together,” Warren said. “When you have a good friendship with someone, you can tell how they’re going to play on the field. That’s how it has been with Jessica.” Spang commented that she couldn’t relate directly to missing time due to injury, but the way that Warren handled herself during her early setback was inspirational to the entire team. “For her to score in her first game coming back from injury was huge,” Spang said. “I was really excited for her because I knew how much she wanted to score.” Warren also credits her development in the program to her fellow seniors Dana Lubieniecki and Kari Kastelic, as the trio has worked together all season to set a positive example for all players. “Those two have really helped me improve as a player, and have helped me make sure I stay positive and not get down on myself,” Warren said.
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY “Hayley is extremely competitive on the field and has a tireless work ethic. She brings a lot of experience to our program and is a great role model for our underclassmen. I love her positive attitude, kindness, and how she carries herself on and off the field.” – MSUB Head Coach Wojtek Krakowiak on Senior Hayley Warren. Warren is studying health and human performance at MSUB, with hopes of pursuing a career in physical therapy. Her encounter with injuries throughout her playing career has jolted her interest in helping athletes recover and return to the field, and she plans to attend graduate school at Eastern Washington University upon the completion of her undergraduate degree at MSUB. “It started when I got hurt in high school, and my physical therapist at home convinced me to take a PT class,” Warren remembered. “Ever since then I have always wanted to do physical therapy.” Everything from Warren’s path to becoming a college soccer player to her plans to attend graduate school has been supported by her parents Aleck and Josie Warren. “My parents have always kept pushing me, and even when things have gotten tough they have always convinced me to stick with Warren with her parents Aleck and Josie after a match at Central Washington University in Ellensburg it and fight,” Warren said. “They (left), and with her sister Sydney after her high-school graduation. have always supported me no matter what my decisions have been.” Her family has traveled to some of the many games that MSUB plays in its native state of Washington, while also stopping to check in on Warren’s younger sister Sydney who is a freshman this year at Peninsula College. So far, Sydney has taken after Hayley’s lead as she ranks second on the team with eight goals scored in 14 games played. “I am really excited for her going on to play at the college level,” Warren said regarding her younger sister. “She has always the shy one in the group, but knowing that she already has a strong group of teammates after moving away from home is a good feeling.” With four games remaining on the Yellowjackets’ regular-season schedule, Warren remains just as focused and optimistic about scoring as she was at the outset of the campaign. Injuries have never proved too much to overcome, and with the confidence she has accrued in her short time at MSUB she still has high expectations for the rest of the fall. “I just hope my teammates remember that positivity goes a long way, and that they know I always played because I loved the game,” Warren said. “I have always wanted what’s best for the team no matter what, and I have really enjoyed being a mentor for the younger players.” --@MSUBSports | #JacketNation--