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Paige Kalal’s journey to UMN

Champlin Park midfielder won the 2022 Ms. Soccer award for the state of Minnesota.
Paige Kalal was a star player in high school, playing varsity all of her four years.
Image by Photo courtesy of Trenten Gauthier
Paige Kalal was a star player in high school, playing varsity all of her four years.

The Minnesota Gophers 2023 signing class for the women’s soccer team is loaded with in-state talent, but from the many, Paige Kalal’s achievements stick out.

Kalal comes out of Champlin Park, Minnesota, and played on her varsity team all four years of high school. In her final year with the Rebels, she was named 2022 Ms. Soccer for Minnesota. The award is given out annually to the best high school player in the state.

Kalal is no stranger to accolades. The midfielder received Northwest Suburban All-Conference honors three times and dominated with the ball, scoring 77 goals and assisting 47 others.

Even with all of the awards and recognition, Kalal continued to deliver quality production season after season.

“In high school, I really focused on being a well-rounded player and checking all the boxes,” Kalal said. “I also focused on playing with efficiency and poise, which set me apart from other players because I wasn’t on the field playing super flashy.”

Kalal’s impressive play allowed her the opportunity to play for one of the more elite clubs in Minnesota: the Minnesota Thunder Academy. The club is a part of the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), which allows athletes to compete at the highest level.

Throughout five seasons with the Minnesota Thunder, she received All-Conference honors in 2021 and 2022 and was invited to the 2022 ECNL Selection Game.

In addition, Kalal participated in the Women’s Professional Soccer League and earned All-Conference honors.

It is obvious wherever Kalal goes, success and accolades follow.

When asked how she hopes to continue that at Minnesota she said, “I value my style of play, so I hope that I can bring the skill sets that I am confident in and push myself out of my comfort zone so that I can make an immediate impact on the field.”

Minnesota’s new midfielder added she looks to continue to be a leader for the Gophers, having been a captain in high school.

“I joined the program early and played with the team during the spring season, which helped me prepare for the fall season even better,” Kalal said when asked about what her preparation looks like getting ready for her first collegiate season. “I got to focus on my technical, tactical and physical skills in the spring, which will really help my game in the fall.”

Preparing for her first season in the Big Ten, Kalal has been focusing on every aspect of her game. Kalal said the team’s mentality as a whole is improving each day and looks to build to compete for a Big Ten title.

Head coach Erin Chastain has been with Minnesota for the last two seasons. She talked about the recruitment of Kalal and what type of player Minnesota is getting in 2023.

Paige is a very technical and smooth soccer player and she always stood out on the field for her ability to be special on the ball,” Chastain said. “We recruited Paige for a long time and really got to know her before she committed to Minnesota. Paige loves soccer and wants to be the best and has a great soccer IQ.

Chastain has had success landing commitments from the best players in the state with players like Khyah Harper in 2021 and Taylor Heimerl this year. 

Both Harper and Heimerl were named Gatorade Player of the Year in Minnesota in their respective seasons.

Sarah Martin, the goalkeeper for Champlin Park and Kalal’s teammate, is another recruit committed to play for Minnesota. 

Martin gave some insight into what type of teammate and player Kalal is from her perspective while on the pitch.

“During high school games, Paige naturally got double- and triple-teamed all the time,” Martin said. “What was cool was getting to see that, as our team lost supportive midfielders year to year, Paige adapted her game to what our team needed. That meant scoring more goals under more pressure and still getting everyone on the field involved.”

Martin has played with Kalal over the last four years, and the pair have built a great chemistry they hope will transfer over to Minnesota.

Kalal’s highly anticipated collegiate career is set to begin in just over a month when Minnesota faces North Dakota State University on August 7.

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