Jessica Van Heynigen reaches 100 points for Gateway Regional girls soccer

  • The Gateway Regional girls soccer team poses after a 4-0 win over Mohawk, Tuesday in Buckland. Jessica Van Heynigen, center with ball, scored her 100th career point in the win. ADAM HARGRAVES

  • Gateway Regional coach Steve Estelle, left, stands with Jessica Van Heynigen after a 4-0 win over Mohawk, Tuesday in Buckland. Van Heynigen scored her 100th career point for the Gators. ADAM HARGRAVES

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

BUCKLAND — Jessica Van Heynigen began playing soccer for Gateway Regional in eighth grade.

“I was playing with big seniors who would yell at me,” Van Heynigen said. “It helped me.”

Move forward to her senior year, and she is on her way to becoming the most prolific scorer ever for the Gators.

During a 4-0 win over Mohawk Tuesday, Van Heynigen scored a hat trick to put her first stamp in Gateway’s record book with 100 career points.

“I am part of Gateway history right now,” Van Heynigen said. “I have grown so much. It couldn’t have happened during a better year. My senior year at Gateway.”

The third goal that gave her the milestone came in typical Van Heynigen fashion, surrounded by defenders.

This season, opposing defenses have targeted her more than in recent years. The goal was unassisted.

“I didn’t think I was going to do it today,” Van Heynigen said. “But we kept the ball in their half and it frustrated them a little. We needed that push.”

As she was once among the youngest players for the Gators, Van Heynigen now appreciates the opportunity to lead a younger group.

“You want to help everyone else grow too,” Van Heynigen said. “I want to be a leader and set examples. Give them the drive that I have.”

With the milestone set, the Gators are ready for a playoff run.

“We can do anything,” Van Heynigen said. “We needed a little confidence. I feel like this is a push for everyone.”

Gateway coach Steve Estelle has coached the Gators for 28 years.

“She always has a commitment to improve,” Estelle said. “She’s had different coaching and different teams and has used that.”

Estelle noted a trait that Van Heynigen displays that is rare among high school soccer players.

“She can carry that ball at the speed that she runs,” Estelle said. “She’s very unique. I don’t know how many goals she has scored with a player or two on her.”

Van Heynigen needs five more points to break the all-time record at Gateway.

Van Heynigen recently verbally committed to Division II Southern Connecticut State in New Haven.

“I went on a college visit and I loved it there,” Van Heynigen said.

During a summer soccer clinic at the school, Van Heynigen met Southern Connecticut coach Adam Cohen, who immediately expressed interest in her.

“He said I was a dangerous player,” Van Heynigen said. “I went down and visited again and verbally committed. I was in love with Southern Connecticut.”

The Gators (4-1-3) took a 1-0 lead against the Warriors when Erin Harris took a feed from Rebecca Hyjek and scored.

Gateway did not score again until the second half when Van Heynigen broke loose.

Harris fed Van Heynigen around the 18-yard line for the game’s second goal.

Hannah Duggan assisted on Van Heynigen’s second goal.

Becca Herman did not have to make a save to record the shutout for the Gators. She was relieved late in the second half by Donna Viel.

Juliana Dickinson led Gateway’s defense once again, containing most opportunities that managed to get past the midfield.