Discussion about Eagan goalkeeper Megan Plaschko's monster season doesn't always start with her 14 shutouts.

Sure, her ability to deliver more clean sheets than a linen truck is a big reason the Wildcats (16-0-3) are favored to repeat as Class 2A state champions. But that's generally expected of top goalkeepers. What's unexpected is when one launches a free kick into the upper reaches of the opposing goal from 40 yards out — something Plaschko did against Eden Prairie.

"I literally stood up and clapped," Eagles coach Jessica Mueller said.

Plaschko, who has conceded six goals but scored four of her own, acknowledged: "That was a really cool goal. I'll probably never score one like that again."

A goalkeeper who stymies the opposition, scores goals and provides vocal leadership to teammates, Plaschko is the Star Tribune girls' soccer Metro Player of the Year.

"She is an anomaly in girls' soccer," Mueller said of Plaschko, who has committed to play for the Gophers.

While it's fun for Plaschko to score, she knows helping Eagan win its fourth state title in five seasons begins with defending. That is something the Wildcats do well and do together.

"I owe so much to my teammates," said Plaschko, also selected Ms. Soccer. "They've cleared rebounds and saved me many times."

When teams do break down the Wildcats defense, Plaschko pounces. She isn't afraid to sprint off her line to stop initial shots or deny second chances.

"She's vocal and has a swagger that many young women don't have," Mueller said.

The courage to speak up came from watching Jordan Clark, a goalkeeper on Eagan's 2014 state title team, and through encouragement from coach Bulut Ozturk.

"You're the boss back there," said Plaschko, in her third season as a team captain.