Setting an overwhelming goal felt like the right thing to do for Jenna Roering.
She had been outdoing herself all her life, so the eighth-grade varsity starter at Centennial proclaimed she would score 100 goals throughout her high school career.
"I wanted to aim big, but I didn't think I'd make it," said Roering, now a senior captain.
Racing up the right wing and nobody in between her and the goalie, Roering began to think: Will this be it?
Numbers 97, 98 and 99 had already been scored in the first-round section playoff game on Oct. 9. But the fans were prepared with a sign, "No. 100."
The kick was on its way. It faked out the Spring Lake goalkeeper. And Roering's arms raised to the sky as her milestone hit the net. The senior turned around to a mob of teammates running in her direction. Lifelong friend Maddie Janssen latched on to Roering as the pair celebrated the moment.
"I don't think people really understand how good she is and how humble she is about it," said Janssen of Roering, selected as the Star Tribune's girls' soccer Metro Player of the Year. "I know she thinks it is no big deal, but Coach stated she's only the second person in Minnesota to break 100 goals in [Class] 2A history. I'm glad I got to share the moment with her."
Centennial coach Ginger Flohaug knew she had something special when Roering trotted onto her field as an eighth-grader. The way she touched the ball, moved with it and distributed it were at a level beyond most of the coach's upperclassmen. Something you don't coach, is how Flohaug described it.
"Some people just have a little bit of that natural gift," she said. "And that continues to blossom as she gets stronger and faster. She breaks apart her opponents."
Double- and even triple-teaming did little to slow Roering's efforts to reach 100 goals. A strong supporting cast enabled her to unload the ball to other scorers and eventually lighten the burden on herself to complete and exceed her goal.
Roering has scored 34 goals this year, continuing the trend of breaking her own record from the previous year.
"I didn't do it by myself," the senior said, also referencing overwhelming fan support. "I'm thankful for everyone. I'm really happy about all the goals, but it really shows all the people supporting me."
Rated among the top 15 recruits in the nation by ESPN, Roering committed to play college soccer at national power Santa Clara (Calif.) University. The Broncos were not only impressed by her skills but also the leadership that helped the Cougars rattle off six wins in a row to end the season, and three playoff victories to earn the No. 3 seed in the Class 2A state tournament.
Roering's is hopeful that her third trip to the state finals will finally produce the only thing missing from her illustrious high school career: a state championship.
"We all look up to her so much," said freshman Nan Glinsek. "The way she plays makes all of us want to play like her. Overall, the team wants to win state for the seniors and for Jenna."
Jason Gonzalez • 612-673-4494 Twitter: @JGonStrib