Kaylene Pang knew she had a long consecutive-minutes-played streak for the Washington women’s soccer team.
But how long of a streak?
“I knew about it, but I didn’t know the exact number,” said the senior defender from Issaquah, who was recently named first-team All-Pac-12.
The answer: 5,201. That is 86.7 hours.
Pang has played every minute of every game the past three seasons. The streak will undoubtedly continue Tuesday when the No. 23-ranked Huskies (9-3-3) open play in the NCAA tournament against Liberty (7-5-5) in Matthews, North Carolina (all games in the tournament are being played in North Carolina).
“Usually my position doesn’t need to be subbed out as much as others, (and the streak) is something I have come to embrace,” Pang said.
Pang has played every minute in 55 games since subbing in for the second half as a freshman on Nov. 3, 2017.
That has been a good thing for UW. She was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection last season, helping the Huskies get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015.
The Huskies lost in the second round to South Florida, the final game of Lesle Gallimore’s 26-year coaching career at UW.
Nicole Van Dyke took over as coach, and the Huskies have maintained a high level of play with the help of Pang. She said missing out on the NCAA tournament her first two seasons has made her more grateful to be part of it.
“I think it’s a huge testament to our team culture and the quality of players we have on our team,” Pang said of reaching the NCAA tournament two straight times with different coaches.
Defense has been the Huskies’ strength this season. They allowed the fewest goals in the Pac-12 with 11, the first time the program has led that category.
“I think our defense has been so solid because everyone on the team is committed to defending and not just attacking, which is huge,” said Pang, who has three career goals, all as a sophomore. “We all have trust in each other and are committed to being organized defensively. That has gotten us out of some tough situations and allowed us to be ready for different types of attacks.”
Pang said, “I’m not the most adaptable person who loves change,” and said it was a little bit difficult learning the expectations and the standards of the new coaching staff as well as the new drills.
“There was definitely a learning curve and once we got into the swing of things we got an understanding of what each other wanted,” Pang said. “I think it has been a pretty smooth transition since.”
Van Dyke said Pang is “tremendous at breaking up counterattacks and she reacts to plays really well,” but the coach said the senior’s leadership has been just as important.
“She has really served as the on-field leader,” Van Dyke said. “Not only has she done that, but she has been the consistent starting central defender in there. She has had to adapt and bring along people with her because of all the new faces in the back line. … I think where she has impacted the most is the ability to bring other people with her.”
Another constant throughout Pang’s four years at UW has been excellence in the classroom. Pang, a mechanical engineering major, is set to graduate in the spring.
“I definitely don’t have much of a social life,” Pang said. “For me, it’s all about having good time management, and I’m prioritizing school and soccer.”
She has won several scholar-athlete honors and twice received $5,000 Mary Gates Research Scholar grants for the project she was working on: “Low-Cost Automated Labeling and Clearing of Clinical Specimens for High-Throughput Nondestructive 3D Pathology.”
Pang has a job waiting at the end of August in management consulting, but she is focused on soccer at the moment and ending her last season in style.
“I think we can go pretty far in the tournament,” she said. “I know we’re unseeded but I think we do better when we have an underdog mentality. It’s all about peaking at the right time and I think we’ve been improving a lot the past few games. I think we’re still climbing and we’re going to peak at a good time.”
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