The 2017 season was another tough one for the Pendleton girls soccer team.
The Buckaroos put together a 1-10-2 overall record, went 0-6 in the Columbia River Conference, and were outscored 53-15 as the school continues to develop and build up its program.
However, there were a few bright spots to watch on the field, one of those being a small, blonde forward wearing the No. 8 on her jersey — a girl by the name of Denisa Senkerikova.
A junior foreign exchange student from Czech Republic, Senkerikova dazzled her way around opponents this season, as she led the Buckaroos in goals and assists.
“It was fun,” Senkerikova said in an interview, describing her season in the United States. “New girls, and new team and I just like playing soccer.”
Senkerikova, 17, hails from the town of Uhersky Brod in the southeastern Czech Republic, with a population similar to Pendleton’s. She has an older sister, Dominika, who was also an exchange student at Ione Community Charter School in 2011, when she starred on the Cardinals’ volleyball team that went 23-0 to win the Class 1A state championship. Now Dominika plays volleyball at Division-II school Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. Those experiences in the US shared to her by her sister only made Denisa want to study in the US as well.
Senkerikova has played soccer since she was very young, following in the footsteps of her grandfather and her father, Pavel, who played before her and taught her the art of the game. In the Czech Republic, there are not as many school-sponsored sports, so Senkerikova has been honing her skills by playing high-level club soccer for the last few years.
So it was no surprise to see her display a high level of talent on the pitch this season for Pendleton, which helped her earn Columbia River Conference Co-Player of the Year honors as well as Class 5A first team all-state honors.
She was one of only two CRC players to make the all-state list, which is voted on by the 5A coaches and compiled by The Oregonian, the other player being league champion Hood River Valley’s Yahaira Chavarria.
“It felt pretty good,” Senkerikova said of getting the awards. She was caught by surprise when her accomplishments were announced at a school assembly in the gymnasium, which Senkerikova described the scene as “awesome.”
Senkerikova arrived in the US on Aug. 24 and will stay here throughout Pendleton’s school year before flying back to her home country in mid-June. During her stay, she is living with host parents Richard and Charity Boyer of Pendleton, and so far has enjoyed her time living in the town of just over 16,800 residence, citing an affinity for the area’s restaurants and nice people. While studying at Pendleton High School, she lists her favorite classes as training and conditioning and mathematics.
When she goes back to Europe, she will still have roughly two years of schooling before she graduates high school. And being that she turns 18 years of age in May, she will likely try out for the Czech Republic women’s national program as well before eventually hoping to return to the US to play collegiate soccer.
But until then, she will enjoy the final five-plus months of her exchange program and continue learning the ropes of being a Buckaroo.
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.