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Basketball player turned goalkeeper Alia Burgess leads Byron Center to success

Burgess records Bulldogs' sixth shutout in 12 games
Alia Burgess helps lead Byron Center girls soccer team to wins
Posted at 10:33 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 23:19:13-04

BYRON CENTER, Mich. — Byron Center senior Alia Burgess started playing soccer just two years ago.

However, this season she was plugged into playing goalkeeper and has played the position extremely well, which has led to a lot of success.

"I didn't start playing soccer until the my sophomore year," Burgess smiled.

Byron Center goalkeeper saving the day

The Bulldogs played to a draw with Forest Hills Central on Friday night, one of the best teams in a loaded OK White division.

Burgess received credit for the shutout, the team's sixth in just 12 games.

"I played basketball my whole life and I just step into whatever role our team needs," Burgess added, "this year, we needed a goalie and I stepped into that role."

First-year head coach John Conlon, who took over for his wife after her three seasons at the helm, says Burgess has impressed him from his first time seeing her play.

"She's fearless, tough, has great hands, not afraid to stick her neck in when she's surrounded by trees, just a great competitor," Conlon said, "and she's a coaches kid, her dad coaches basketball."

Conlon also adds that it's the fearlessness that stands out most.

"As a goalie, you have to be fearless," he said, "you're either the scapegoat or you're the hero, there's no in between, you have to be okay with that and she rides that line perfectly."

Alia Burgess
Byron Center senior goalkeeper, Alia Burgess.

Burgess also has great reviews from her teammates, who say she's a total team player who doesn't make it about herself.

"I used to play basketball with her, I love how competitive she is and how she always works her hardest to do whatever it takes," added senior center defense, Grace Wilson, "to be able to play with her one last time with her and be able to play in the back with her is so much fun."

The Bulldogs are now 10-1-1 after the draw and a big reason why is senior leaders like Burgess.

"It's really a team effort and I mean that from the bottom of my heart," she smiled, "I couldn't do it without them, they're teaching me and we're just coming out here to compete against great teams."

The OK White conference tournament will begin on Thursday and the Bulldogs have secured the No. 1 seed by remaining unbeaten in conference play.