All-Area Girls’ Soccer: Northwestern’s Watts is Player of the Year

bmccormick@heraldonline.comJune 26, 2013 

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    PLAYER OF THE YEAR

    Lauren Watts, Northwestern

    COACH OF THE YEAR

    Cesar Robles, Northwestern

    FIRST TEAM

    Lauren Watts, Northwestern- All-state performer led the Trojans with 22 goals and 10 assists. Watts, who will suit up for her home state in July’s Clash of the Carolinas, will play for Winthrop this fall.

    Helena Moore, Northwestern- Moore filled a number of roles for the Trojans this spring. All-region performer and Clash of the Carolinas selection scored four goals and added five assists. She’ll play for Anderson University.

    Madeline Ramsey, Northwestern- Tough-tackling junior scored 10 goals and had 11 assists, earning all-region and all-state honors in the process. Ramsey plans to graduate early in December and will play soccer at Louisiana State.

    Shalyn Dougherty, Indian Land- Junior all-region and all-state forward fired in 31 goals and added 14 assists, helping the Warriors to one of their best seasons ever.

    Katherine Kilroy, Indian Land- All-region and all-state as a freshman, Kilroy was another big cog in the Warriors’ success, helping the team to a school-best 10 shutouts.

    Bonnie Holleman, Fort Mill- All-region senior forward scored 13 goals and was named to the North-South Classic roster.

    Cassidy Parker, Fort Mill- Second half of the Yellow Jackets’ scoring duo knocked in 14 goals this season and made all-region as a junior.

    Frances Whitesides, Lancaster- All-region junior scored nine goals for the Bruins this season.

    Emma Schearer, Nation Ford- All-region senior midfielder was a North-South Classic selection.

    Madison Norman, Rock Hill- Senior defender was an all-region and North-South Classic selection.

    Samantha Prytulak, Clover- All-region striker still scored 11 goals despite missing much of the season with an injury. Prytulak will play for Winthrop this fall.

    Samantha Pantuosco, Clover- Pantuosco scored 10 goals and added six assists for the Blue Eagles while earning all-region and North-South Classic honors.

    Naomi Matley, Clover- Senior midfielder/defender will play at Wingate after a senior season in which she scored eight goals with seven assists and earned all-region and North-South Classic selections.

    SECOND TEAM

    Cara Pennington, Northwestern

    Whitney Hunt, Northwestern

    Lena Patrick, York

    Bailey Rich, Fort Mill

    Bagley Knox, Fort Mill

    McKenzie Davis, Fort Mill

    Samantha Whitley, Fort Mill

    Shannon Blair, Nation Ford

    Carly Long, Nation Ford

    Hannah McGinn, Indian Land

    Kelsey Groll, Indian Land

The rain is really picking up and Lauren Watts is asked by a photographer who’s in a hurry to get to his car to “try one without smiling.”

The resulting expression is one that was familiar to Watts’ foes on the soccer field this year. The Northwestern senior’s mouth drops into a stern frown and her brows furrow. It’s kind of unnerving.

“That’s what everybody says,” she points out. “When I don’t smile I look scary.”

If opponents saw anything but that stern glare it’s probably because Watts scored, the Trojans won, or most likely both. The senior forward, who will play for Winthrop this fall, netted 22 goals this spring and set up 10 more, earning all-state honors and helping Cesar Robles’ program to one of its best seasons ever: a 16-6 record and a trip to the second round of the state tournament.

Earning the Herald’s 2013 All-Area Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year award was worth smiling about.

“When my coach texted me and told me that, I was definitely surprised,” Watts said last week, “because we have a lot of competition around this area. It’s a good way to end my career in high school.”

Watts didn’t start playing soccer until seventh grade, late compared to many girls she plays with and against. She admitted her skills still are sharpening, but Watts’ aggression and commitment separate her from the pack.

“A leader on and off the field, leading by example,” said Robles. “She’s basically one of those players that says ‘Get on my back; I’ve got this.’ ”

It’s what she must have said when she scored a brilliant goal to put Northwestern ahead 1-0 in the second-round playoff loss to T.L. Hanna. And it’s what she did in scoring decisive goals against Clover, Nation Ford and several other opponents.

Whether through her own efforts or a stern word to a teammate, Watts left no question as to what was expected of herself and her team.

“It raised the level of our play to levels that we’ve never been before, honestly,” said Robles, whose team had three others who will play college soccer this fall. “It brought that no-quit mentality, that fight to the final whistle-type of mentality, and just a belief that they were going to be successful.”

Watts doesn’t always have to rely on grit. Of course there is her unique flip throw-in that launches the ball into opponents’ penalty areas. And she’s good on the ball but also very fast, a quality that will bode well for her at the college level.

“That doesn’t hurt,” said Robles. “You couple that with strength and good technical skill and awareness of the game, and that’s the reason why she was so successful.”

The photo shoot finished, Watts and the photographer scurried to waiting vehicles. She flashed a quick smile and said, “Thanks!” before turning a scowl toward the uncooperative heavens.

Bret McCormick •  329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T

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