There was not one player more important to the 2013 Sonora Wildcats boys' soccer team than goalkeeper Andrew Klatt.
The rangy 6-foot-2-inch Klatt, a two time first-team All-Valley Oak League selection, was often times the smartest athlete on the pitch, and his soccer intelligence was obvious.
"It's like having a coach on the field," said Sonora boss Lloyd Longeway. "He really knows the game as far as keeping his fullbacks in great position. Always alert. Knows when to come off the line."
Klatt, a four-year Wildcat starter, was a mainstay for Longeway every season in front of goal. This past year, Klatt led Sonora to two wins over Tuolumne County rival Summerville, a 1-0 and 2-0 victories.
In Sonora's 2-0 win over playoff-bound Summerville in early September, Summerville blasted a barrage of shots at Klatt, but the senior standout shut out the Bears.
"Andrew Klatt saved their butts," said Summerville head coach Dave Reel after that game. "If Andrew Klatt wasn't there, we might win the game."
In all, Klatt recorded five clean sheets throughout 2013. His presence alone gave his teammates utmost confidence.
"When we have Andrew, all of our fullbacks can just take a deep breath because they knew they had a guy behind him they can count on," Longeway said. "They had a major support system behind them. He took a lot of pressure off from them. He is a leader. The way his peers respect him is second to none."
With his magnificent saves and uncanny leadership, Andrew Klatt isThe Union Democrat's2013 All-Area Co-Most Valuable Player.
"He's the best goalie I ever had since I been coaching up here," Longeway said. "Bar none. He's extremely athletic. Long arms. He had really good reactions. Can dive from side to side. Can punch a ball from anywhere in sight. With his size and speed combination, it makes him really hard to beat."
"He's got great instincts," Reel said. "Athleticism. He's just natural that way. Very coachable."
Although Klatt had many bright spots throughout his Wildcat career, one unbelievable performance sticks out.
Against VOL powerhouse Weston Ranch, who finished as the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section runner-up, Klatt delivered a 1-0 stunner. He pitched a shutout and scored the game-winner in Stockton.
In a nil-nil game, Sonora received a free kick in the 75th minute near midfield and Longeway trotted Klatt out near the 40-yard line on the Wildcat side.
"We had Andrew take a lot of kicks because he has a very strong leg," Longeway said.
Klatt got in position, blasted the ball more than 50 yards in the air and into the box. The Weston Ranch goalie came off his line, and the ball landed in front of him near the penalty spot, took a bounce and lofted over his head.
"For the goalie to score a game-winning goal, it's pretty special," Longeway said. "I'm so happy for Andrew to have a moment like that. First time I've ever seen that. It's something that I'll never forget. I don't think that will ever happen again."
"I didn't think I was actually going to score," Klatt said. "It was pretty weird. I think getting a shutout and the game-winning goal is pretty surreal."
Klatt signed on Feb. 5 his intent to play next year at Cal Poly after the coach offered a partial scholarship. He also drew interest from UC Merced, UC Davis, Cal Poly, Hawaii, Sonoma State, Stanislaus State, Chico State and a few Texas universities.
"I want to keep playing soccer because it's the one thing I'm really, really good at," Klatt said. "I played every single day this year. It's something I love doing. If I can play in college, I definitely want to. Soccer is my love and my passion. I don't want to stop doing that."