Lutheran senior sets soccer record

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“Goal machine” is a term often used by rabid soccer aficionados to describe a prolific offensive player.

Shelby Raper is a goal machine for Lutheran High School and recently broke the school's career goals record previously held by Lions coach Brooke Davis.

Raper, a senior who will be playing soccer at South Dakota State next year, has scored 114 goals in four years at Lutheran to break the 15-year-old record of 109 goals that Davis set when playing for the school, which was then located in southwest Denver and nicknamed the Lights.

And, no, Davis didn't ask Raper to play goalkeeper this season in order to preserve her record.

“She tied the record and then had a breakaway and missed it,” Davis recalled. “And I was `are you just egging us on, are you trying to make this last longer and are you playing a joke on me?' But she scored five minutes later.

“We talked about the record before the season, that she had a chance to do this in the record department. If she is scoring goals, that means we're doing well, so please, go score goals.”

Raper, who plays on the Colorado Storm Elite Clubs National League U18 Copa team, hasn't had much time to reflect on setting the record because she and her teammates had to endure a wait to see if Lutheran qualified for the Class 3A state playoffs.

“It still hasn't sunk in fully, but the record is something I'm proud of,” she said. “I never dreamed this would happen when I came here four years ago. It's a blessing that my coach is the one that I broke her record. I get to know whose record I broke because she was saying she's happy she knows me and someone who broke her record.”

Raper has 34 goals and 14 assists in 15 games this season and leads Class 3A girls in goals, assists and points. She is also the state leader in goals and points through games of May 3, despite many times going against bigger, more physical defenders.

She has the speed and skills and could have played at any high school level of competition.

“She is one the fastest girls I've ever seen,” Davis said. “Shelby can literally use her speed to take on four girls by her. Usually she has three girls around her or on her and she can still just get through them. She has an eye for the goal. She knows how to score. She understands the game enough to know when to shoot, when to dribble, when to take on the goalie and when to do an outside shot. She finds the goal.

“She reads the defense really well. She knows the weakness of players. She can pick that up pretty quickly in games. It's her speed and control. A lot of girls can have the speed but she can keep that ball with her. I think girls stop to watch her because it is so pretty. She just has that finesse with speed.”

Raper doesn't take all the credit for her goal-scoring prowess.

“Probably my number one skill is finishing,” she said. “And a lot of it is from my teammates. I can't do it all myself. They have trust in me and I don't want to let them down. So I work my hardest to go out and score.”

Raper will have the opportunity to add to her record career goals total when Lutheran (10-5-0) plays Bayfield (12-2-1) Friday in a first-round Class 3A Regional 5 playoff game at St. Mary's in Colorado Springs.

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