It was a classic Kate Henesey goal.
The Lansdale Catholic senior received the ball at her feet in Monday’s match at Bonner and Prendergast, turned, powered her way through three defenders and kept racing after the ball. Even with the keeper coming, Henesey didn’t stop, got to the ball first and slotted the opportunity home in the back of the net.
Henesey scored the 99th and 100th goals of her high school career on Monday, reaching a remarkable threshold due to, more than anything, an unparalleled relentlessness.
She’s far from done scoring, but the forward reflected on the milestone after scoring goal 101 in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Methacton.
“The funny thing is I started out playing as a center back freshman year and I thought I might be stuck playing back there,” Henesey said. “I’m just really grateful to get the opportunity to play up top, to get all these goals. I think it’s a joint effort, all the girls I’ve played with over the years, they’ve done a lot of work too.”
Henesey has always been a striker, but when she came to LC as a freshman, Crusaders coach Tom O’Donnell had a need in the middle of the defense that Henesey’s speed, strength and tireless style best fit. She played the whole season on defense and didn’t score a single time.
So, really, reaching 100 goals was a three-year endeavor, which kind of makes the whole thing that much more remarkable.
“We joke about it now, 101 goals later, but that was probably about 25 we missed that freshman year,” O’Donnell said. “She’s just relentless. She’s got an incredible burst to just go and get a ball. Some of the people ooh and aah but I’m thinking, that’s a goal, fellas. Without her, the keeper picks up the ball, punts it away and we keep playing. That’s the difference.”
Henesey netted 31 goals as a sophomore as the Crusaders made it to the second round of the state tournament. Last season, she netted 38 goals, breaking the school’s single-season and career record but the Crusaders saw their season come to a heartbreaking end in the Philadelphia Catholic League final against archrival Archbishop Wood.
Now at 32 goals this season, Henesey said she wants to try and re-break her own single-season record but also wants to win the PCL championship that has eluded her and her teammates the last three seasons.
What’s apparent almost immediately is just how strong Henesey is. She is routinely double or triple-teamed and often, even with defenders draped over her, manages to bring down a pass, turn and make something of it. While she is a target player, she’s not a statue and the senior has good speed and an excellent burst off her first step that creates a ton of pressure on defenders.
“Her mentality is if she scores three, she’s flat-out going after number four,” O’Donnell said. “Some kids get a goal and they’re happy. She gets what she gets because she’s not satisfied. The game has to end before she stops and I don’t see too many other players play that way.”
Henesey credits it to her rigorous training routine. She works out nearly year-round, only stopping in season, at OverAcheive Sports and Speed in King of Prussia and it’s paid off quite a nicely for the Bucknell recruit.
“I always play the same way, playing to score and playing to win and I think that drive helps me to continue scoring,” Henesey said. “That program has helped me get where I am, to stay in shape and be stronger than everybody else on the field. Going into tackles, I can tell I have an edge and I can go into it and win it.”
The forward doesn’t point to anything on the field that she feels she’s most improved on since arriving at LC.
“I feel that my leadership qualities have improved the most, speaking up on the field, being a vocal leader, leading by example and always trying to set the tone for the game,” Henesey said. “I felt the support from every single girl on the field, they were there with me, telling me to keep my head up if I didn’t make it. They never stopped feeding me the ball and it helped me to grasp my role on the team.”
Aside from her teammates the last four years, Henesey credited her coaches, parents Caroline and Brian and the entire LC community for supporting and encouraging her every step of the way.
While she’s determined to score as many times as she possibly can every time she steps on the field, Henesey said there have been times where she was surprised with her numbers. She called it “shocking” at times, because she doesn’t realize how much all those scores add up to.
What also helps set Henesey apart is that she’s not afraid to score ugly. She doesn’t hunt for perfect shots and isn’t afraid to stick herself in between the ball and defenders or keepers if means a chance of putting one away.
O’Donnell likened it to body punches in a boxing match, making 20 yards runs after a hopeless ball just to make defenders hear footsteps gets Henesey in their head. Over time, she breaks their will to keep defending someone who continues coming after them relentlessly.
“I think it’s drive and determination, you have to want to do it and you can’t go out and screw around, you have to get right after your goal,” Henesey said. “If you see a ball, you have to own the mentality that you’re going to win that ball, you’re going to get there first and it’s yours to win.”
O’Donnell has been at LC for 25 years and had scores of great players, with numerous going on to play Division I soccer like Henesey will next fall, so picking one standout among the rest is not an easy task. The veteran coach paused when asked where Henesey ranked, listing the merits of several past stars.
“I thought about that,” O’Donnell said. “These were phenomenally gifted soccer players, but she is such an all-around player, I could use her anywhere and she’s a first-team all-league player. That, plus her mentality and approach, she brings the other girls back into the game. In 25 years, she might be No. 1 that’s ever come through Lansdale Catholic girls soccer.”