Van Soderberg lives for the high-stage moments, but it took time to get there.
Go back 10 months ago to Capital’s Class 2A boys soccer state semifinal showdown with Sedro-Woolley when after 90 minutes of regulation and overtimes, Soderberg, then a backup goalkeeper, was called on for the final minute of the second OT and shootout. He calmly saved three consecutive penalty kicks to send the Cougars to the state title game with a 1-0 (3-2 PKs) win, recalling the moment as “better than I could’ve imagined it.”
Or subsequently last October in football, when Capital and Central Kitsap were knotted in a scoreless tie in overtime before Soderberg drilled a game-winning 33-yard field goal for the 3-0 victory.
Nervous and pressured in both situations? Yes, but the same nerves and stage fright the high school junior experienced as a young boy in his first piano recital prepared him for moments like this.
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He and his twin sister, Elsa, began the piano when his family lived in Maui, Hawaii.
The stage fright Soderberg experienced playing in front of crowds slowly eased. It’s not a problem anymore performing concerts, nor in the big-time pressures on the pitch.
“After doing it so many times,” he said, “it becomes second nature.”
The technical sides of soccer, football and piano, plus playing the cello, all go hand in hand, Soderberg said. He and Elsa are now advanced pianists and perform locally. He also plays the cello with his school.
“They all help each other out,” Soderberg said. “There’s a lot of stress involved. A small mistake has a big impact.
“For each one, I just give a positive mindset going into practicing the next one. Each one builds on the other one and motivates me to do the best I can in each one.”
While Soderberg blends music, academics and athletics, his mother, Sophia Barashkoff, also called her son “a great composer.”
“He has the mind for it,” she said.
While future goals for Soderberg include continuing with music, a career involving aerospace engineering and using his leg at the college level — he hit a 60-yard field goal at a Florida kicking and punting showcase in January — Soderberg will start in goal for the Cougars after splitting time in 2014 with Jakob Racimo, last year’s 2A EvCo defensive MVP who graduated. Cougars boys soccer coach Andrew Lopez, whose teams are back up in the Class 3A Narrows League after the past two years in Class 2A, said what has impressed him about Soderberg is his ability to remain extremely focused and disciplined, which isn’t always easy as the last line of defense.
“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” Lopez said. “As a goalkeeper, that is probably the most important attribute.”
Like so many attributes that describe Soderberg.