Woodbury’s Sophia Barjesteh – Twin Cities

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in the spring of 2020 has left states in general stranded and children with nowhere to go and little to do.

Sophia Barjesteh’s football activities were suspended.

His work, on the other hand, was not. Barjesteh has always relied on training to improve himself in the sport. At the age of 5, she set goals for herself, such as completing 10 consecutive juggles, then 15, 20 and so on.

Barjesteh has been lifting weights since eighth grade, and Woodbury girls’ football coach Pat Malicki has said the senior captain is the only player on the squad to maintain her lifting regimen throughout the season.

Even now, with Woodbury’s season coming to an end, Barjesteh’s weekdays look like this: school, commute to Richfield for club training, then back home for homework, dinner and bed. .

Work is his routine. That was not going to change because of a pandemic.

So, while she was stuck at home in the spring of her sophomore year, Barjesteh and her father went to Home Depot to buy… some sod, which they then installed in the family garage.

“I would train and just work on the skills of the foot,” said Barjesteh. “I don’t know, I would probably do at least an hour (per day) and then run to keep in shape.”

This grass is no longer in the garage. Barjesteh has exhausted him.

“It was destroyed. … We had to throw it away, ”she said. “It was pretty bad at the end.”

But the work she devoted to it remains evident to this day. Barjesteh, already a stellar defender early in her high school career, started her junior season with improved technical skills and confidence that she could have an impact on offense as well.

Barjesteh scored four goals in Woodbury’s season opener win over Forest Lake in 2020.

“I think I gained my confidence at the start of the junior year, because I realized that I could have a bigger impact than I thought I could, and that I could really change the course of the game. “she said. “I think I kind of realized then, ‘Oh, I can be in the attack. I’m not afraid to score and change the game. ‘ ”

She hasn’t looked back since. The Royals senior midfielder has scored 11 goals and eight assists this fall. And the Gophers Pledge is Pioneer Press’s Eastern Subway Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year in 2021.

“She’s amazing on the pitch,” said Malicki. “I just saw a teacher in the hallway – and there were three or four teachers who stopped me in the hallway – and I just said, ‘She’s great in class.’ … She’s been amazing to train, amazing to teach… she’s an amazing and special person.

And an incredibly talented one, to boot. Barjesteh believes his technical abilities are the strength of his game. Malicki said the midfielder can run as fast with the ball as without.

“When she gets it, she’ll beat a player, that’s for sure. Most of the time it’s two, and even three, ”he said. “Her first hit is immediately in space, and that hit is so quick that if the defender is here, she’s already in space and attacking and finding the next person – either the next person to beat or to deal it out. . ”

The latter has been a key growth this season for Barjesteh. She entered the season knowing she would be a marked player. The midfielder admitted in training that she took risks to see what she could do and what she couldn’t to get a better idea of ​​what to do in tough times. matches.

When things happened, she made the right choice. Malicki has characterized this season as one of Woodbury’s best offensives in recent memory. The team’s “quarterback” has a lot to do with it.

“Every time they target her, someone else will be opened up,” he said. “It’s hard to always understand as a player that someone else is open, but she just kept getting better.”

Barjesteh also led. Malicki noted that many young players at Woodbury aim to get to where she’s going – Division-I level. She sets the bar to which others aspire.

“I rely more on her to say, ‘Do we need to change something? Is everything okay? Do we need to challenge you? “Malicki said.” You see it in the training sessions, that’s where we’re going to grow as a team and a program is when you have someone like her who brings competitiveness. in every game and every training session, that’s what’s going to get everyone up there. . ”

Barjesteh made a commitment to the Gophers in March. She has attended a number of U games this fall and looks forward to representing her state to the next level. She stressed the importance of the next nine months and the growth she wants to achieve before the start of her academic career.

All players, Malicki noted, need to improve between high school and college. He knows Barjesteh will.

“Which benefits her, as most of the players are done after our practice session is that she is lifting or doing something with the ball,” said Malicki. “I know that with her passion, her energy and her love of the game, she will improve.”

And as her strengths and abilities improve, her self-confidence should improve as well. He made a big leap in high school, and will be tested again at the next level.

“I just need to believe in myself,” said Barjesteh, “because I belong.”


  • Undated courtesy photo, circa November 2021, of Lauren Ahles of Centennial, one of the finalists for Pioneer Press East Metro Girls Soccer Player of the Year. (Courtesy of the centenary)

  • Undated courtesy photo, circa November 2021, of McKenna Lehman, one of the finalists for Pioneer Press East Metro Girls Soccer Player of the Year. (Courtesy of Lakeville Nord)

  • Undated courtesy photo, circa November 2021, of Berit Parten of Minnehaha Academy, one of the finalists for Pioneer Press East Metro Girls Soccer Player of the Year. (Courtesy of Minnehaha Academy)

  • Undated courtesy photo, circa November 2021, of Maddie Poor of East Ridge, one of the Pioneer Press East Metro Girls Soccer Player of the Year finalists. (Courtesy of East Ridge)

  • Undated courtesy photo, circa November 2021, of Hill-Murray’s Ella Runyon, one of the Pioneer Press East Metro Girls Soccer Player of the Year finalists. (Courtesy of Hill-Murray)

Lauren Ahles, Senior Midfielder, Centennial: Northeast commits rate and dispatch at a high level.

McKenna Lehman, senior midfielder, Lakeville North: St. Thomas’ engagement had 15 goals and five assists.

Berit Parten, second year striker, Minnehaha Academy: Sophomore has scored 43 goals and 22 assists.

Maddie Poor, senior midfielder, East Ridge: The Wisconsin commit is dangerous on every level.

Ella Runyon, senior midfielder, Hill-Murray: Senior led a balanced attack for the Pioneers.