By: Hal Kaiser
Houston Dash midfielder CeCe Kizer has at least three things going for her: 1) the best last name in the NWSL, 2) talent, 3) the confidence of her coaches. She might argue a fourth, a Super Bowl championship for her hometown Kansas City Chiefs (“Ask me about the Chiefs,” was her first comment in post-practice interviews last week).
The Dash selected Kizer last year with the 4th pick in the NWSL College Draft out of Ole Miss where she had a stellar career. By the time she was done, she held the Ole Miss career record for goals (48) and points (119). She had a particularly productive senior season, leading the SEC in goals (13), assists (8) and points (34).
Underlining the extent of her SEC dominance were comments by long-time Aggie play-by-play voice David Ellis during the annual preseason match at Texas A&M last year. Ellis emphasized how happy he was to see Kizer no longer in an Ole Miss shirt after several years of tormenting the Aggies.
It was clear during the 2019 preseason that the coaching staff was high on her. She was given ample playing time and utilized it to showcase her attacking ability, scoring 4 goals in 4 games against collegiate opposition.
With multiple experienced options at her position, however, she was predominantly a late game substitute during the regular season. She made 16 appearances in all, 14 of those off the bench, and registered 364 minutes (an average of 22 minutes per game).
Describing herself as a big family person, Kizer headed back to the Kansas City area after the season to spend time with her family and, obviously, take in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win. Throughout, she got ready for the 2020 season, “I did some individual training, trained with some boys teams back home and other girls teams as well.”
She also got to spend time with two of her new teammates for 2020 that are also from the Kansas City area: Shea Groom and Maegan Kelly. “I got to hang out with them and get to know them. Really excited to bring them in.”
Now, heading into her second season in the league, Kizer focused on what she believes she needs to do to make the next step, “Being more confident. As a rookie coming into this league it is pretty intimidating when you’re going against your heroes from when you’re growing up. For me it’s just being confident on the field, being confident in myself and just knowing my role on the team and executing everything I can on and off the field to the best of my abilities.”
While she had a relatively low key rookie season, the confidence the coaching staff showed in her last year has only increased. “I expect a lot from her,” said Dash head coach James Clarkson when asked about how she fits into team plans this year.
“We had opportunities to bring in other players, and I believe CeCe is going to play a huge part in the future of the Dash, so I didn’t want to stifle her growth by bringing in older more experienced players. I want her to breakthrough and become a real mainstay in the team.”
With players like Sofia Huerta having been traded away and an Olympics set to (maybe) happen this season, she will likely get ample opportunity to make that breakthrough in 2020.
As for the last name, well, that speaks for itself.