Kayla Deaver (SR/Lee’s Summit, Mo.) is a marked woman these days. Literally.

Her 25 goals put her second in the NAIA in Saturday’s Kansas Wesleyan football game against Oklahoma Wesleyan. Unsurprisingly, opposing defenses have recently been giving the Coyotes preferential treatment.

It’s both flattering and frustrating, but Deaver is unfazed.

“All I can do is play,” she said. “I treat every game the same. I don’t try to think about it too much, I don’t think about the result or what might happen. I just go out there and play football.

Southwestern focused on Deaver in their Saturday game at JRI Stadium and Graves Family Sports Complex and the strategy worked for 89 minutes and 54 seconds. Deaver, however, scored from the left corner of the penalty area with six seconds left and the Coyotes escaped with a 1-1 draw – continuing their unbeaten streak and extending to 11 games after the tilt of Wednesday at McPherson.

Deaver has been the equivalent of Steph Curry on the court this season. The goal against Southwestern was his 21st in KWU’s last 10 games – the blitz with a school-record six against rival Bethany on Oct. 12.

She was named Kansas Conference and NAIA Offensive Player of the Week for October 10-16.

Deaver, however, redirects the credit to his teammates.

“I feel like all of my accomplishments couldn’t be accomplished without my team,” she said. “I don’t do everything by myself, so even if I look really good this year, it’s thanks to my teammates. They make me look good, it’s not one person’s show.

KWU coach Henrik Sohn is satisfied and impressed.

“Ever since she got here, I’ve been telling Kayla that she’s the best player in the conference and I really believe that 100 percent,” he said. “The sky is the limit for anything she wants to do with football.”

Sohn said Deaver combines superb physical talent with a deep understanding of the game.

“Her ability to hit a ball, her physicality and the way she moves, the way she can cut makes her an exceptional football player, he said. “But I think her understanding of the game is what sets her apart from good players.

“There are a lot of people who are physically gifted, but you have to have football IQ to be an elite player and Kayla is an elite player at that level.”

Deaver agrees that being able to reflect on the game is essential.

“I feel like the level we’re playing at the moment if you’re not as smart at football – you don’t know where to move on the pitch, you don’t know where to be – the game is going to be really hard for you,” she said.

Deaver’s skills have evolved since she started acting at a young age.

“I’ve been playing football since I was 2 years old. I never took a year off,” she said. “(My parents) told me as soon as I started walking, I wanted to kick a ball, so that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”

The Coyotes had won nine straight before tying Southwestern, after starting the season with five losses.

“Honestly, we were tired of losing,” Deaver said. “I just think one day we were like ‘oh my God, something’s got to start changing.’ We weren’t starting out the way we wanted to I think once we started focusing more on training, once we gave 110%, once we started playing for the girls, everything went away. started to set up.

Deaver said it started in practice.

“The coach always tells us that you practice playing,” she said. “If you show up for training and just follow the moves, you’re also going to follow the moves of the game. If you really want to win, you have to train hard.

Deaver played at Lee’s Summit High School (Mo.) and transferred to KWU in the spring 2020 semester from Kansas City Kansas Community College. His academic career began at Central Methodist University.

“Kayla has come a long way,” Sohn said. “Big smile, really funny, great sense of humor, great to be there. We had to work out some things in class, but she’s matured as a person and she’s matured on the pitch and I think that’s going to happen. see. She did the job.

“When I got here I was a mess, honestly, but Henrik got me in line,” Deaver said. “I did extra sessions with him; I feel like I took the necessary steps to get better.

“Henrik always gives me confidence. As long as you follow what the coach says, I feel the rest will come to you.

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