Steamboat Springs Kelly Labor had a bit of a target on her back heading into her freshman year of NCAA Division II soccer at Regis University.
Labor graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in June. More than a month later, Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference coaches named her the 2006 preseason freshman of the year.
Labor lived up to the hype.
"(The selection) was a surprise to me," Labor said. "I didn't think about it initially, but it was motivation to work hard."
Regis coach J.B. Belzer was impressed with Labor's attitude and work ethic, not to mention her play on the field. Labor made an immediate impact for the Rangers - she was named Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 5 and finished the regular season as her team's points and assists leader.
Belzer beamed about Labor's game-winning goal in Regis' RMAC semifinal win against Mesa State University.
"It was goal-scorer's goal," Belzer said. "Squared across, she whipped it with the outside of her foot. You don't score that goal unless you practice and have natural talent and intuition. It was a planned touch - very sublime."
Regis could not follow up with a win in the RMAC championship game Oct. 29, losing to Fort Lewis College. The team finished its season 11-7-4.
When the conference an-
nounced its postseason awards for women's soccer, Labor was named Freshman of the Year. She also was the only freshman selected to the 2006 All-RMAC First Team.
Belzer said he hopes Labor can continue to improve for next season and step into a leadership role.
Labor was pleased to make the smooth transition from Steamboat into the season-long competitive atmosphere of a talented and tight-knit collegiate team.
"You don't have blow-out games here," she said. "Every game is a real test and you have to bring you're 'A' game every time. Plus there's competition for playing time. It's a ton of fun."