Athletes and fans alike around the globe all know one of sport’s most important sayings and its impact: Defense wins championships.
Enter Kendall Ballotti.
Ballotti, a sophomore at West Morris Central and goalkeeper for the girls’ varsity soccer team, knows the importance of protecting the net–and the team–from giving up points.
The Wolfpack soccer team after a nine-round shootout against top-ranked Scotch Plains-Fanwood. In the four games played during the playoffs, the defense–and Ballotti–surrendered just two regulation time goals to opponents, both coming from Scotch Plains-Fanwood.
Ballotti pitched three consecutive shutouts in the tournament, playing a major role in the team’s success.
Long Valley Patch nominates Kendall Ballotti as its Athlete of the Week for her performance throughout the season and stellar goalkeeping during the playoffs.
Ballotti, 15, began playing soccer at the age of 4, according to her mother, Leslie Ballotti. This was the goalkeeper’s first year guarding the net in organized play.
The Ballotti family moved to Long Valley just four years ago. Ballotti was born in Belgium, Germany, and attended elementary school in Rome, Italy, her mother said.
At a young age, Ballotti jumped right into the sport, playing with kids older and bigger than her, according to Leslie Ballotti.
“There weren’t any sports for children (in Rome),” Leslie Ballotti said. “So, Kendall would go to the other side of the playground during recess and play soccer with all the boys. They loved her, and couldn’t believe someone so little could play ‘vero’–meaning real soccer.”
“Winning the last game meant a lot to me,” said Kendall Ballotti, “because I realized we were the last girls’ team (still in the playoffs) at school. I’m really proud of our team.”
Ken Rossi, the team's head coach, says Ballotti's acclimation to goaltending wasn't much of a surprise to him.
"Kendall's performance wasn't much of a surprise," Rossi said. "She's an extremely gifted athlete. It was amazing to watch how fast she improved every game. By the end of the season she was making saves that many players that have been in the net their whole career can't make."
Rossi added that Ballotti is an extremely team-oriented, confident and kind-hearted young lady.
Ballotti also plays basketball and competes in high jump for the track team. When she’s not competing, Ballotti enjoys attending Rutgers football games or watching other West Morris Central teams compete.