Alaska soccer pipeline to Northern Arizona continues with Lyken

June 27, 2016

Malia Lyken

Malia Lyken

Recent high school graduate Malia Lyken of Anchorage wouldn’t mind playing college soccer in Alaska, but there isn’t a team.

She found the next best thing to home at Northern Arizona University.

“The town of Flagstaff is amazing, and just like Anchorage,” she told me. “I love the sports facilities and the team, especially the coaches. Everyone seems so welcoming. I know it’s not going to be Anchorage but they make it feel like a home away from home.”

Lyken, of Dimond High fame, won Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year honors as a senior and was selected for the U19 Women’s National Team training camp in California.

In her final year at Dimond she collected 25 goals and 20 assists and led the undefeated Lynx to the state championship to cap an 18-0 season. She also played with the Cook Inlet Soccer Club.

Even though Lyken is a bona fide goal scorer she isn’t selfish with the ball.

“I would say I’m better at passing because I see the field really well and I know when to play it and how it needs to be served,” she said.

Lyken will likely play outside forward at NAU, although her all-around ability allows the coaching staff flexibility to move her around on the field. She realizes that she will have to prove herself all over again.

“I’m expecting a whole lot of changes in this transition and I look at it as a clean sheet,” she said. “I also think I’ll learn a lot of things and become a better athlete and person.”

At NAU she will join forces again with fellow club Velocity ’97 teammate and fellow Anchorage all-star Haleigh Van Allen, who was a college freshman this year after winning 2015 Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year honors at Service.

“I always looked up to her and respected her as a player and a person” Lyken said. “We have talked about NAU a couple times and I just asked her how the season was going and if she was enjoying it.”

She will find out soon enough.

Lyken is grateful for her experiences in Alaska that got her ready for the next step, but perhaps the best preparation was attending the national team training camp.

“That was an amazing experience,” she said. “I got to be with the top players in my age group and even older girls. I was working with some of the best coaches and being able to learn from them on how I can improve my game. It was awesome.”