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Senior Soccer Spotlight: Sarah LaFayette

Written by on October 22, 2021

NORMAL, Ill.- For fifth-year senior Sarah LaFayette, the love for soccer was instantaneous at a young age.

“It happened right away I think as soon as I started playing,” said Lafayette.”I think before I was even five years I really enjoyed it and it always came with having great friends on whatever team I was on and just really enjoying the time spent because you spend a lot of hours with your teammates. The experience is definitely a lot better with great teammates. Really when I started playing it is when I started to love it.”

LaFayette, who is a Normal native, played under varsity head coach Hayley Sefton at University High School which is located five minutes from Illinois State University. During her four years at University High, LaFayette had an 11-game scoring streak in the 2016 season, All-State honors, MVP honors, received Coach’s Award in 2015, as well as netting a total of 179 goals which is still fourth all-time for most goals scored in IHSA girl’s soccer history. She is also second all-time in goals scored in a season (IHSA girl’s soccer) when she netted in 68 during the 2017 season.

Apart from playing under coach Sefton at University High, LaFayette also played club soccer for Illinois Fusion under head coach Don Ideran for ten years. She expanded on her time under coach Sefton and coach Ideran.

“Oh boy, that’s a throwback,” said LaFayette. “It was obviously so much fun being able to grow up here and play soccer with the local club and high school. The transition to ISU was awesome because it’s so familiar being around here and I still have so many people still here that can come watch me play and that support me. I look back on those times with happiness just to know that back then it was all about having fun and it still is but it’s interesting to think about.”

Her decorated high school career gained her offers from other Division I schools including Illinois State. The plan for LaFayette however, was to go as far away as possible.

“It wasn’t always the plan,” said LaFayette. “I think as I grew up a little bit more it became more of a viable choice for me. I always said that I’m going far away but as I sort of learn more about ISU and the soccer program here, it was a no brainer for me once I got into my late high school years.”

During her career as a Redbird, LaFayette would go on to have a very good five seasons. She has played (As of October 22) 3,328 minutes, has 121 shots with 37 of those being on goal, 7 assists, 11 goals, and played in 67 games while starting 33 of them. She credits her teammates for impacting her on and off the field.

“Honestly it’s just my teammates,” said LaFayette. “Spending five years with everyone that’s my age and having four of us come back for our fifth-years, they’re my best friends and they’re people who I can rely on for anything whether it’s soccer related or not.”

As Illinois State inches closer to Missouri Valley Conference Tournament time, LaFayette realizes that her time as a Redbird is coming to an end. She is on her last year of playing eligibility and credits soccer for helping shape her as a person.

“It’s helped me become a better person just in life in general because you can apply a lot of the troubles you face in soccer to life,” said LaFayette. “Like overcoming a situation with someone, not being the best every day, but having to find a way to still be yourself. Soccer has taught me how to be a better person.”