Eastwood girls soccer - Souder, eight all-league players return

J. Patrick Eaken

Eastwood girls soccer has a hold on the Northern Buckeye Conference and they are not planning on letting that go anytime soon.

Eastwood, ranked fifth in last year’s final Division III state coaches’ poll, is seeking to win its fourth straight Northern Buckeye Conference girls soccer championship, 

However, 11th-year coach Megan Rutherford knows that the rest of the NBC will be coming after her team, and they have the potential to turn the tables.

“As usual, we have some strong teams in our league and I expect this year to be more of the same from those teams,” Rutherford said. “We always battle with Lake, Woodmore, and Genoa for league titles and I think it will be good competition again. That is what makes this league fun to play in. I expect our team to be a strong contender for another league title.”

Last year the Eagles, ranked No. 1 in the Northwest District coaches poll, finished 18-3 overall and 9-1 in the NBC, but Lake did manage to pull off a 1-0 victory in the final regular season NBC game. Eastwood’s other two losses were to Liberty-Benton, 2-0, during the regular season, and 2-0 again in the D-III regional final.

Under Rutherford, the program has taken off like gangbusters. In her first 11 seasons, Eastwood is an accumulated 132-44-16. Eastwood is the only place she has coached. She was hired at Eastwood right out of college, receiving the job offer at age 22 while finishing her student teaching at Van Buren.

It took a gradual progression under her leadership to get to where it is today, and she’ll admit it was a learning process for her, too. Maybe her husband, Eastwood football coach Craig Rutherford, and her father-in-law, former Eastwood gridiron coach Jerry Rutherford, taught her a few things about coaching, but those are dinner table discussions the rest of us will never hear.

The Eagles reached the D-II district championship in 2014 and reached the D-III district championship in 2016. 

Eastwood won seven sectional championships in eight years from 2013-2020, including two D-II titles (2013, 2014) and five D-III, missing out only in 2017. After that miss of a sectional title, it was on to bigger things.

In 2018 and 2019 the Eagles were NBC champions, D-III district champions and regional semifinalists. In 2020, the team was NBC champions, repeated as D-III district champions and regional runners-up. 

Coach Rutherford was awarded Northwest District D-III Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2019, was awarded Ohio D-III Coach of the Year in 2019, and United Soccer Coaches Ohio High School Coach of the Year Small School Division in 2019.

Last year, the Eagles outscored opponents 113-12 during the regular season. The Eagles averaged 7.4 goals per game, 6.4 assists (94 total) and had 33.7 shots, with 505 shots taken, including 335 on goal. They allowed just 0.73 goals per game and opponents managed just 76 shots for just 5.1 per game.

However, Liberty-Benton has been Eastwood’s Achilles heel in tournament play for several years. But Rutherford will be the first to admit that a contingent of talented athletes entering the program in the past decade have made the difference.

More recently, the Eagles’ success has developed with the play of forward Kenna Souder, who is entering her senior year. She is one of 17 letter winners returning this year.

For the third straight year, Eastwood junior attacker Kenna Souder was the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Girls Soccer Player of the Year in 2020. She was first team All-Ohio and first team on the national All-American Team.

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

Her 83 points her sophomore 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 was also the Northwest Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association Division III Player of the Year as a junior.

“Kenna had another great year statistically in spite of opponents’ defenses aiming to shut her down,” Coach 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 (this) season.”

The Eagles return eight players who earned All-NBC honors last year, and most were first team. That’s all but three starters returning with high accolades. Besides Souder, also returning are first team All-NBC selections Kayden Firsdon, Mikayla Hoelter, Kaylynn Simon, Sydney Ameling and Aubrey Haas. Jada Jensen was second team all-league and Hannah Montag was honorable mention. 

Joining Souder on the all-district first team are Simon and Haas and Ameling were second team.









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