Kaylee Phillips, a 2007 graduate of Watkins Memorial High School, is moving from one successful college soccer program to another, and simple geography proved to be a key factor in that decision.

Kaylee Phillips, a 2007 graduate of Watkins Memorial High School, is moving from one successful college soccer program to another, and simple geography proved to be a key factor in that decision.

Originally recruited by the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, she enrolled earlier this summer at Capital University in Columbus. Last week, Phillips said she will join the women's program there after talking with coach Dwight Burgess, who also coaches the men's team at Capital and at one point in his career served as a clinician for the Columbus Crew.

"Kaylee's always been an independent girl," said John Starr, who coached her at Watkins Memorial and now is coaching at West Jefferson. "But at the same time she's a real homebody."

The Crusaders posted a 14-5-2 record last fall and won a second consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference tournament championship to qualify for the NCAA Division III regional. They will open Aug. 29 at Thomas More in Crestview Hills, Ky.

Phillips, who is the only Licking County prep player to score 100 career goals, landed at Capital by way of Bowling Green. She wanted to play closer to home and began looking at schools she never applied to as a high-school senior. Phillips was planning to play for the Falcons before another recent change of heart.

"My parents have been getting a little stressed out with all my decision-making, that's for sure," she said. "They were a little upset I'm not going to Bowling Green because they have such a good program there, too, but they're happy I'll be home even more and won't be makingthat eight-hour drive to North Carolina."

Phillips played in 15 games and started twice as a freshman last season at UNC-Charlotte, making her first start during a 1-0 road victory over Saint Louis in the regular-season finale that gave the 49ers consecutive Atlantic-10 titles. They also went on successfully to defend their Atlantic-10 tournament championship to qualify for the NCAA Division I regional, eventually finishing 16-5-1 overall.

"We went there and beat them on their home field. That was big, a real thrill for me especially starting for the first time," Phillips said. "I liked it down there (in North Carolina ) and everything. It was just so far away."

The 49ers recruited her as a defender and she had played in the backfield as well with her club team, Ohio Premier. She ended up playing forward and likely will stay there at Capital, she added.

Phillips was known as a playmaking striker at Watkins Memorial, where she concluded her career with 103 goals. She became just the fourth girl and fifth player overall in the Central District to reach 100 goals, and her total still has her tied for 26th all-time among girls in the state record book.

Amber Silvis, who played at Mt. Orab Western Brown from 1999-2002, holds the girls state record with 182.

As a senior in high school, Phillips scored 28 goals and was named ThisWeek's Player of the Year in Licking County. Her 100th goal came Oct. 12, 2006 at Whetstone, where goalkeeper Maddy Tibbs awarded her the ball and Phillips breathed a great sigh of relief.

"I always had a lot of help," Phillips said of her former teammates. They included school career-assists leader Carly Dent, who is playing at Otterbein and will be an opponent this fall, and also Lindsey Denny, who Phillips noted is transferring to Capital from Marietta College this year.

Phillips, who turned 19 last Wednesday, likely has concluded her club career, although she said Ohio Premier is trying to organize an older age-group team. She is studying education and has been working on Columbus ' East Side at ARC Industries, which provides employment and training opportunities for workers with developmental disabilities.

"I've really become interested in working with people with disabilities," she said.

"After school and soccer and everything, that's what I see myself doing."

Starr was among those who were excited to hear Phillips was transferring closer to home, although as recently as two weeks ago he was planning to go see her play for a different school.

"Bowling Green's playing at Ohio State this year," he said. "I've already got Sept. 7 circled on my calendar."

Kurtis Adams can be reached at thisweeklicking@sbcglobal.net.