Souder girls push each other to success

J. Patrick Eaken

For the third straight year, Eastwood junior attacker Kenna Souder is the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

In three seasons, she has provided a school record 238 points for the Eagles on a school record 99 goals and 40 assists and she has one more year remaining. Each year of her high school career she scored 33 goals, but had 10 assists this year, 17 assists her sophomore year and 13 her freshman year. 

Her 83 points last year are a school record, and her 33 goals during her freshman season is a school record which she has tied each year since.

Kenna is the Northwest Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association Division III Player of the Year, leading the Eagles to an 18-3 season, No. 5 ranking in the final statewide coaches’ poll, a repeat Northern Buckeye Conference championship, district championship and regional runners-up finish.

“Kenna had another great year statistically in spite of opponents’ defenses aiming to shut her down,” Eastwood coach Megan Rutherford said. “She’s obviously a very consistent scorer with 33 goals each year. 

“She supplements her game well with assists and high tempo defending. We play a very aggressive style that demands high fitness levels and high defensive effort from our attacking players. She was fully committed to that role knowing that it would give her and her teammates more chances to score goals and suffocate opponents’ possession. I’m looking forward to seeing what she and her teammates can accomplish next season.”

However, Kenna is part of a package that includes her older sister Jaylee, a three-sport senior who hopes to play sports collegiately someday. She just has not determined in what sport yet, but adds that softball is high on that list.

Every year, Jaylee is a first or second team goalkeeper, but this year the third-year starter got pushed back to honorable mention in the NBC and All-Press team, in part because of the play of All-Press Goalkeeper of the Year, Lake junior Brigid Enright, Northwood sophomore keeper Zoe Turner, and Oak Harbor junior keeper Ripley St. Clair, a first team all-district selection.

This year, Jaylee led the Eagles to a school record 11 shutouts, and for her career she has 190 saves on 239 shots faced for a save percentage of 79.5 percent. By the way, she also has 11 points on five goals and one assist, so she can accomplish things out of the box when she has the opportunity.

This year, she had a goals against average of 0.81, allowing just 17 goals in 21 games. She had 57 saves out of 71 shots on goal (80.3 save percentage). As a junior, she had 59 saves out of 75 SOG (78.7 percent), allowing 17 goals in 21 games (0.81 GAA). As a sophomore, she had 73 saves on 92 SOG (79.3 percent), allowing 19 goals in 21 games (0.90). As a freshman, she was the back-up keeper, playing 22 halves, mostly in the field, scoring four goals with one assist, but getting one save on one shot in goal.

It cannot be denied that without older sister Jaylee, there is not the competitive drive that Kenna brings, and vice versa.

“I think a lot of Kenna and Jaylee’s success comes from their competitive nature and their multisport background,” Rutherford said. “They’ve both competed in three sports to my knowledge — Kenna with soccer, basketball, and track and Jaylee with soccer, basketball, and softball. 

“That creates really well-rounded, intelligent athletes with a lot of different coaching styles and a lot of critical thinking experience when it comes to understanding how to compete at high levels in each sport.”

To understand how Jaylee and Kenna have became so good at their game, imagine a net in the Souder backyard with Kenna shooting and Jaylee trying to protect.

“Or, we would go out to Eastwood and she would shoot on me a whole bunch,” Jaylee said. “We were trying to set up games and competition to see if she could score more or if I could save more. I think it really shaped who we became as players because we always wanted to be competitive. It always prepared us for games and always having the mindset that one of us has to be the winner and always pushing ourselves to get better in that aspect.”

Kenna says she will miss playing alongside her older sister and Jaylee effectively says “ditto.”

“When were growing up we used to be on the same travel team and then I went to a different team and she kind of followed with basketball, so getting to play soccer together in high school was really fun. Before every game, she would give me something inspirational before the game,” Kenna said.

Jaylee added, ““It was really great because we both got to play together and we both had the same mindset so we wanted to push each other to get better. Even though she was younger I think it was really good to have her there because we both wanted the same thing. It was a really great experience and I’m really sad that it is over.”



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