After 20-1 season, Eastwood girls soccer only gets better

J. Patrick Eaken

        After a 20-1 season and a No. 3 ranking in the state Division III coaches poll, you would assume that Eastwood girls soccer could not get much better?
        Guess again. Eastwood 10th-year coach Megan Rutherford returns 14 letter winners, including all of the Eagles’ scoring power.
        Rutherford, who started her head coaching career when she was 22 years old, straight out of college and has been there ever since, has an overall record of 114-41-16. Her teams have won two straight Northern Buckeye Conference championships and two straight district titles.
        A big reason for Eastwood’s success is the play of junior attacker Makenna Souder, who was awarded All-American honors last year, along with first team All-Ohio, District Player of the Year, Alan Miler Jewelers All-Press Co-POY and first team All-NBC in 2019. She was also named to the All-Region Team in 2018.
       But there is more. Kaylynn Simon was awarded second team all-district and first team All-NBC last year, Aubrey Haas was second team all-district and second team All-NBC and Sydney Ameling was first team All-NBC. All-NBC second team selections include Kayden Firsdon and Jada Jensen. Mikayla Hoelter, Hannah Montag and Jaylee Souder were All-NBC honorable mention.
        Plus there is a whole crop of newcomers coming to the fold, similar to when Makenna Souder and her classmates arrived two years ago.
        “We have quite a few freshmen that we expect to contribute this season,” Rutherford said.
        Rutherford admits all tha talent doesn’t guarantee an NBC title, as even last year some league opponents gave the Eagles a run for their money.
        “We have some strong teams in our league, but I fully expect our team to be a strong contender for another league title,” Rutherford said. “I expect this year to be more of the same from those teams. We always battle with Lake, Genoa, and Woodmore for league titles and I think it will be good competition again. That is what makes this league fun to play in.”
        All of Eastwood’s top scorers but one last season were underclassmen and are returning.
        “We have a lot of scoring threats on our team,” Rutherford said. “We have a pretty balanced attack, but we aren’t just an attacking team. Our attacking game is backed up by a strong midfield core and a young, but talented back line and an experienced goalkeeper. We have a lot of depth on our team and we plan to use that depth to wear teams down.”
        Last year, Makenna Souder led Eastwood with 33 goals, followed by then-sophomore attacker Aubrey Haas (29), then-senior forward and now graduated Raegan Delgado (15), then-freshman midfielder/forward Hannah Montag (15) and then-sophomore center midfielder Sydney Ameling (13).
        Sophomore defensive center midfielder Kaylynn Simon led Eastwood with 20 assists. Makenna Souder had 17 assists, while freshman Hannah Montag and sophomores Aubrey Haas, Jada Jensen and Ameling all had nine apiece. In goal, Jaylee Souder had 59 saves on 75 shots faced, for a 78.7 percent save percentage.
        Last year’s squad reached the regional semis again and ended the season with a 1-0 double-overtime loss to Liberty-Benton.
        Eastwood outshot L-B by a 12-2 margin in the first half and finished with 23 shots on goal. L-B won the game on a fluky goal in the second overtime.
        “One of their attackers knocked our center-back down,” Rutherford said. “(Officials) determined it was going to play on, and it left us exposed. Their girl read the play well and scored. Our other center-back was trying to contest (the shot) but didn’t get there in time. The shot ricocheted off the post and went in.”
The history of the program since Rutherford took over shows a steady rise to the present day.
        “Nine years ago we had eight wins and were barely over .500,” Rutherford told The Press last year. “The goal is to always get better every year.”
        The team reached the D-II district championship in 2014 and reached the D-III District championship in 2016. The team won sectional championships in 2013, 2014 (D-II), 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 (D-III). In 2018 and 2019 the team was NBC champions and also D-III district champions and regional semifinalists. 
       Rutherford was awarded District D-III Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2019 and was awarded Ohio D-III Coach of the Year in 2019 and also awarded United Soccer Coaches Ohio High School Coach of the Year, Small School Division, in 2019.
        In addition, one of her assistant coaches, Julie Cross has been awarded District Assistant Coach of the Year three times in 2016, 2018, and 2019. (— includes file contributions from Press sportswriter Mark Griffin)


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