O’Toole has four years of hands-on experience guiding the Locos as keeper

By: 
David Keyes
Outlook publisher
Paige O’Toole wants another championship.

Consistency is a solid gold trait for a soccer goalkeeper. And lucky for Laurel High School and the girls’ soccer team, senior keeper Paige O’Toole is the epitome of consistency.
As the 18 year old prepares for her last high school match this Saturday in the Class A state soccer championship, it is easy to see why she has been a key ingredient for a team that has played in the state final every year she has been in high school.
“We have showed up at different schools and coaches can’t believe Paige is still on the team. They think she should have graduated two years ago” said coach Aloma Jess. “In fact, I can’t believe I am talking about her being a senior.”
O’Toole has started as keeper every game since she put on a Locos uniform her freshman year. She hasn’t missed a start or a game the entire four-year run.
“I definitely had to work at earning the starting spot, coach Jess was not going to give it to me,” she said. “I always wanted to play goalie growing up so I was going to do everything I could do to earn and keep my position.”
In each of her four years, O’Toole has improved her goalie skills.
She gives credit to Jess and coaches Pat Cates and Val Nauman for bringing out the best in her.
A strong track athlete in the discus and sprints, O’Toole brings all-around athleticism and smarts to the team and her position.
The coaches say she is a calming force for the team and she is good for one or two jaw-dropping saves in big games.
O’Toole and fellow senior Carlie McGrath were freshmen the last time the Locos won a state championship. That year they had to qualify for the tournament with a play-in game (like this year) and had a team loaded with talent.
“There are a lot of comparisons between this year’s team and that one,” she said. “I want the ending to be the same as well.”
O’Toole has been impressed by the wave of freshman players who have contributed to the team’s success this year.
“The team is really coming together at the right time and all of the players have contributed,” she said.
O’Toole is the youngest of four siblings and the only to pursue soccer. Her passion and success have rubbed off on her family and it isn’t uncommon for her dad to show up at a game with a purple Mohawk or a painted face.
“Yes, I have those parents,” she said with a smile.
As the team focuses on the state championship game, O’Toole knows Central can be beaten. In fact, LHS tied Central at home this season and beat them in Billings last year to end a drought going back a decade.
“That was the last time we played them on that (Rocky Mountain College football field) field,” she said with a smile.
The prospect of playing Central in the championship excites O’Toole.
She isn’t apprehensive about the game because she trusts her defense and knows the offense will score one more goal than Central.
The defense is as consistent as O’Toole and it is rare she is left alone to defend an attacker.
Central has two of the top scorers in the state and has the most goals of any team in Montana.
“We get to play a strong team and I get the chance to stop a few more shots than I see most games,” she said.
The honor student plans to check out Colorado State University and to major in pre-veterinary science. On Tuesday, she was wearing a CSU shirt to school with it’s mascot taking a prominent spot on it. The mascot is a ram, as it is for Central.
“I can’t believe you are wearing a ram,” said coach Jess, half kidding.
As consistent as O’Toole tries to be, coach Jess has actually tripped her up early in high school.
The keeper has had straight A’s in high school with the exception of two B’s – both coming from coach Jess’ freshman and sophomore honors English classes.
“We were joking about that last week,” O’Toole said. “It is pretty obvious she expects more out of me.”

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019
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10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
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Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
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