Old Mill senior makes 'em recall first impression Girls soccer: Injuries have hampered Kristin English the last two seasons, but the girl who created memories even as an 8th-grader is off to a fast start as a senior.

September 11, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Old Mill senior Kristin English didn't wait until her freshman year to make an impression with the school's soccer program. That came a year earlier. It has turned out to be a lasting one.

"Every year, we have an eighth-grade workout for a day. We saw her and said, 'Who is this kid?' She was on the field, blowing by people all day. I knew we had someone special; you could tell right away," said Patriots coach Bruce Sponslor.

In the three following years, English, with an excellent first touch and explosive bursts of energy, ran past defenders to establish herself as one of the county's most dangerous strikers. She made an immediate impact as a freshman, picking up right where she left off during that eighth-grade audition to score 14 goals and assist on five more. She finished 22 more chances the following two seasons despite being slowed by an ankle injury. Each season, she was a first-team All-County selection and also named to the All-State team.

Which brings us to this season.

The Patriots have 12 seniors back from last year's 8-5 team, including a healthy English, and Sponslor said plenty of talented underclassmen add depth. The group sees an opportunity to make something special happen.

"This team is real tight," said English, a two-year co-captain. "We all get along great and are having a lot of fun. The key is staying positive and sticking together. If we can play well as a team, we can go far. We know, when we play with all our heart, we can beat anyone."

After a summer filled with working at soccer camps, playing on her Olympic Development Program and club teams, and even finding time to work out, English said the injuries are behind her, and she's in the best shape of her life.

All systems are go for a grand finale, and that was evident on Tuesday in the Patriots' 4-1 season-opening win against Broadneck. English scored the Patriots' first two goals and assisted on the last two.

"She has great speed and isn't afraid to shoot. When you leave her unmarked, she'll take advantage of the smallest opportunities. She's a quality player," said Broadneck coach Jennifer Sweeney.

Finding No. 21 unmarked hasn't happened often the past couple of seasons; double teams are much more frequent, although English has become more comfortable with the attention.

"I'm used to it. You learn how to get through defenders and understand that when the opportunity isn't there, someone is going to be open to pass off to. We have a strong midfield and a great defense, so there's a lot of support," said English.

Said Sponslor: "She has brought up her game under heavy marking. Teams go up against Old Mill with the idea of letting anyone but Kristin English hurt them. The great players find a way to score big goals in big games, and she's done that."

English's parents -- Don and Helen -- knew they had an athlete right from the start. Both will tell you their daughter skipped the walking stage, choosing instead to run everywhere she went.

English started playing soccer when she was 4, sneaking onto a team for 5-year-olds her father coached. She played softball, lacrosse, basketball and twirled a baton before focusing on soccer at 11.

"My whole life is dedicated to soccer right now. I'm always doing it, going from practice to club ball to ODP. It's a lot of hard work, but it pays off in the end," said English, who has a number of Division I colleges interested, with majoring in nutrition at West Virginia University topping her list.

Pub Date: 9/11/98

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