Dixmont’s Abby Pyne wanted to be a high-scoring striker when she began playing soccer.
“But when I was 9, I realized I wasn’t going to be a speedy forward springing past everybody and scoring the goals,” explained Pyne.
So she became a goalkeeper.
She worked with her father, Jay, on catching balls and discovered “I could actually make saves.”
Helping her make the transition was the fact Pyne was “incredibly tall for my age.
“I didn’t have any technique back then. My primary goal was to just not let anything touch the back of the net,” said Pyne.
The decision has turned out to be the right one.
The 5-foot-11 Pyne has become the first girl from the Maine to be invited to the 35-member Under-14 Girls’ National Team training camp, according to her dad.
She will fly to Carson, Calif. on Saturday to attend the week-long camp. She will be at the Home Depot Center, home of Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy, and will train and play several matches.
“To be selected to play at this high a level is incredible. It’s going to be a ton of fun,” said the freshman and starting goalkeeper at Bangor’s John Bapst High School. “There is going to be lots of good soccer out there.”
She will be the only New England native at the camp and will be one of four goalkeepers.
She earned her trip by impressing coaches at the Olympic Development Camp’s Region One (Northeast) camp in Rhode Island and at the National Team Identification camp in Portland, Ore.
One hundred players attended the camp in Oregon from which 35 were selected to the National Team camp.
She has been preparing for it by “doing a lot of work with local coaches” and playing for the Crusaders.
“The coaches all have their own opinions [on technical aspects of the position] and I just pick which one works the best for me,” she said.
Playing for John Bapst has “been really fun. I’ve bonded with the players and they’re all good players. But there are a lot of good players in the state so I have been getting a lot of shots.
“That’s great. I don’t want to be a bored goalkeeper,” said Pyne.
There have been several important factors in her development.
She has backstopped Black Bear United to three consecutive state age-group championships and had the benefit of working with former University of Maine men’s goalkeeper Nemanja Kostic of Serbia. He was one of her father’s patients.
Her father is a hand surgeon and he operated on Kostic.
“When I first started training with him, I wasn’t a good goalie. He helped me so much,” said Pyne. “He’s a great person and a great coach.”
Pyne describes herself as an aggressive goalie who believes strongly in verbally communicating with her teammates during games.
Pyne, who will turn 14 next Friday, said she is going to Carson with a purpose.
“The main thing for me is I really want to learn as much as I can,” Pyne said. “I will take the criticism and advice from the coaches and see if I can improve. I’m going to work as hard as I can.
“I want to stay with the national team. I want to be able to go to the next camp,” said Pyne referring to the U-15 camp next year.