Rachel Furtado often draws a crowd, which is surprising for someone so small and quiet.
The 5-foot-3 Victory Christian High School senior does her talking with her feet.
With Furtado's moves and skill speaking volumes, the striker is the area's all-time girls' soccer scoring leader with 165 goals - and counting - while competing for a Carmichael school that is one of the area's smallest.
So during most matches, Furtado is often swarmed by defenders. Yet she still finds the net while maintaining her strong reputation as a team-first player (she has a team-high 13 assists this season to go with her team-high 49 goals).
"It's amazing watching her weave through three or four people and still score," said Victory Christian senior Justyne Shope, who has played with or against Furtado since first grade. "She's incredibly light on her feet. She almost floats through the ball. But what stands out most about Rachel is her humility. After she scores a couple of goals, she goes out of her way to look for others. She knows you can't win with one player."
Chris Shope, Victory Christian's coach and Justyne's father, looks at Furtado and sees a soccer savant.
"I've never seen so much raw talent put into one person," Shope said. "She's like an NFL slow-motion highlight film the way she dodges, jumps over, cuts around and scrambles past defenders with the ball at her feet."
Victory Christian has 118 high school students and competes against schools of comparable enrollments in the Central Valley California League. When a player is that prolific in a small-school conference, it's because he or she is an elite year-round athlete playing in high school only for fun.
But Furtado quit competitive club soccer early in her freshman year so she could focus on school sports and, yes, have fun.
She has been a three-sport standout for the Vikings for years.
She helped the Vikings win a Sac-Joaquin Section volleyball title as a junior. She was a point guard on the girls basketball team, which won back-to-back section titles the past two seasons.
She was the league's MVP soccer player her first three years and is a strong favorite to make it No. 4 this season.
"She's a special player that doesn't come around too often - at any level," said Tim Smithers, Victory Christian's longtime athletic director and the girls' basketball and volleyball coach.
The unassuming Furtado doesn't see her accomplishments as any big deal.
"I'm just trying to have fun with my friends," Furtado said. "I like being able to play for my school and to play three sports."
But while soccer is clearly her favorite, she can't shed any light on what makes her such a prolific goal scorer.
"I don't know, I guess I'm pretty fast," she says smiling. "Somehow I find a way to get around people."
It's not as easy as she makes it sound.
"What amazes me is you'll see people hitting her rather than going for the ball, and she doesn't react," said Shannan Shope, Chris' wife, who is an assistant coach and teacher at the school. "She never gets angry."
Furtado and Justyne Shope, with senior classmates Charity Metzger and Emily Potts, have played soccer together all four years in high school, so they are especially tight in a senior class of 37 students. They've also been classmates since grade school because Victory Christian offers classes from kindergarten through 12th grade.
"The class as a whole is pretty special," Chris Shope said. "There are a lot of gifted athletes and gifted students."
While the Vikings are aware they aren't a powerhouse like Rio Americano, Davis or St. Francis - the area's traditional heavyweights - this has turned into a special season, the best so far in school history.
The Vikings are 17-2 entering today's regular-season finale against Woodland Christian and about to embark on their fourth consecutive playoff appearance.
They have won just one playoff game in three seasons at Division VI, but with a change to an enrollment-based playoff format this season, Victory Christian is likely to play a division lower, enhancing its chances of playing for a girls section soccer title.
"In winning our league, we're going to have home-field advantage," Justyne Shope said. "Last year for the first round we had to go to Mariposa (a school of 585 students). It was a long trip, super hot and we had to deal with the altitude. That all kind of wore on us (the Vikings lost 2-1). With home-field advantage, I feel we have a really good chance."
Furtado says it will be hard leaving her friends as they scatter to different colleges.
But she will join her brother, Josh, a former Victory Christian boys soccer player, at Cal Poly and hasn't ruled out a walk-on tryout with the women's soccer team.
"I was at a soccer camp at Cal Baptist this past summer and one of the coaches couldn't believe I hadn't stuck with club," Furtado said. "But there are no regrets. I still feel I made the right choice."
Year-by-year highlights of Rachel Furtado's four years playing soccer at Victory Christian:
* Through Monday's game
GIRLS SOCCER RECORDS
Career: 178, Lacey Ubaldi, St. Mary's-Stockton, 1997-2000
Season: 64, Katie Gabrielli, St. Mary's-Stockton, 2001
Game: 11 (twice), Desi Engle, Bella Vista, vs. Roseville and vs. San Juan, 1983
Sources: Cal-Hi Sports Record Book and Almanac and Stockton Record
Career: 286, Erin Martin, Temple City (1989-93)
Season: 106, Shannon Stiewert, Coronado-El Paso, Texas (1989)
Game: 18, Jennifer Brelage, Bardstown vs. Campbellsville, Ky. (2002)
Source: National High School Record Book
Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.