Injuries cost Alicia Donley the first quarter of her senior season with the Pickerington High School North girls soccer team, and she also was at less than full strength during the year's most critical contests.
Even if opponents knew, they could do little to contain her.
Donley capped a stellar two-year run by racking up 19 goals and eight assists in 15 games, leading the Panthers to their fourth consecutive Division I district title and the cusp of a state appearance. For her efforts, Donley is ThisWeek's Super 12 captain for the second year in a row.
Donley, a forward, missed the beginning of the season because of two torn ligaments in her right foot. She believes the injury indirectly led to a pulled groin suffered during the district tournament.
"My hips were out of balance and I eventually pulled my groin. It didn't hurt at the time, but the next day, I didn't feel right," said Donley, a University of Tennessee commit. "It was obviously disappointing to miss those first five games, but I believe everything happens for a reason. I still was able to contribute a lot to the team."
Donley was named district and OCC-Ohio Division Player of the Year and first-team all-state. She finished her prep career with 42 goals and 19 assists.
North went 15-2-3 overall and 4-0-1 in the league, sharing the championship with Gahanna, and reached a regional final before losing to Watterson 2-1 in overtime.
"It was hard for her to work herself back into shape, but she did it," coach Greg Van Kannel said. "Alicia might not have had that little extra explosiveness, but what she was able to achieve this season just shows how good an athlete she is, the natural soccer player that she is. She took us to another level."
Donley is graduating early and enrolling at Tennessee for the winter semester.
"One of my goals is to play professionally or on the women's national team," she said. "Hopefully getting a head start in college is going to help me long term."First team
This senior midfielder had 15 goals and 22 assists to help lead New Albany to its second OCC-Capital title in three seasons as well as a Division I district runner-up finish.
Cornelius, a University of Chicago commit and Super 12 honoree for the second consecutive season, was named league Player of the Year as well as first-team all-district and second-team all-state as New Albany went 11-4-4 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Capital.
"Lydia is truly going to be missed by our program," coach Jared Dombrowski said. "She has been the centerpiece of this team. ... What she brings to the field is astonishing -- the passing, the finishing, the ability to read the game, the work rate."
This sophomore forward was the top scorer for Grandview, which won its second consecutive Division III district title before losing in a regional semifinal to finish 15-3-2 overall.
Pierce had 19 goals and five assists for the Bobcats, who tied Worthington Christian for the MSL-Ohio title at 4-0-2. She was named second-team all-state, first-team all-district and league Player of the Year.
"Tayler knows what is going to happen before it happens," coach Mike Merna said. "She knows where the space is going to be before it opens up and that allows her to do some damage. The good players can go out and do that."
This junior midfielder played a crucial role for Olentangy Orange, which reached its second consecutive Division I district final and finished 11-6-1 overall.
Poorbaugh had three goals and four assists for the Pioneers, who placed second (4-1) in the OCC-Buckeye behind Olentangy (5-0). She was second-team all-state and first-team all-district and all-league.
"She is one of the area's best because of her ability to control the midfield defensively and to set up our attack with her passing and runs off the ball," coach Tim Lawrence said. "Her presence alone raises the expectations and performance of all of her teammates."
This junior midfielder helped lead Olentangy to the OCC-Buckeye championship and its first Division I district title since 2015.
Primm scored eight goals as Olentangy went 14-4-2 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Buckeye for their third league title in four years. An Ohio State commit, she was named league Player of the Year as well as first-team all-district and second-team all-state.
"Kayla is an extremely talented player who has played all the midfield positions for our team," coach Earl Devanny said. "She has a natural defensive tendency, helping the team to record seven shutouts this season. She also scored a couple of game-winning goals and provided several assists to our attacking players."
This junior midfielder helped Big Walnut capture its second consecutive Division II regional title.
Schone had a team-best 13 goals and five assists and was named second-team all-state and first-team all-district and all-OCC-Capital. The Golden Eagles finished 14-3-4 overall and 4-1 in the league, second behind New Albany (5-0).
Big Walnut, which won its third consecutive district championship, lost to Cincinnati Indian Hill 2-1 in a state semifinal.
"Avery is a very dynamic and dangerous attacker for us," coach Chris Allen said. "Her ability to create scoring chances, as well as score goals, is a huge asset for us and our attack."
After playing club as a sophomore and junior, this senior midfielder made a huge impact on a Watterson team that reached the Division I state tournament for the first time since 1998. A High Point commit, Schossler scored 21 goals and was named first-team all-district and all-state as the Eagles finished 18-2-2.
Watterson was the No. 1 seed for the district tournament and beat Westerville North 3-0 to win its first district title since 2013.
"She played for the (Ohio Premier) fall team the last two years and wanted to come back and represent her teammates and her school this fall," coach Scott Dempsey said. "She has a fantastic work rate and really dictates things with her attitude."
This senior forward for Dublin Jerome was one of central Ohio's top players the past three seasons. Sears had 14 goals and 11 assists this fall as the Celtics went 15-4-1, reached a Division I regional semifinal and won their eighth consecutive league title.
An Ohio State commit, Sears was third-team all-state as a sophomore, second-team all-state as a junior and first-team all-state this season in addition to being named first-team all-district and OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year.
"Emma is not only great because of her individual talent on the ball, but she is also an asset to our program because of her ability to bring out the best in her teammates," coach Kelly Brothers said.
Despite playing about 70 percent of her minutes at defender, this Worthington Christian senior had 15 goals and seven assists while earning Division III district Player of the Year honors.
Todd helped Worthington Christian post a 13-1-5 record, win the MSL-Ohio title and finish as district runner-up. Also named first-team all-league, she closed her prep career with 60 goals and 33 assists.
"She was a shutdown defender this year and a prolific scorer the previous two years," coach Steve Raikes said. "These player attributes allowed a small school like ours to compete, and in many cases win, against schools much larger over the past three years."
This junior forward led Hilliard Davidson in scoring with 19 goals and four assists despite missing the latter part of the season with a knee injury.
Vargas was named OCC-Central Player of the Year as well as first-team all-district and second-team all-state, as the Wildcats finished 12-4-2 overall, placed second (4-1) in the league behind Dublin Coffman (4-0-1) and lost in a Division I district semifinal.
"Coming off a fantastic sophomore season ... Sonia continued to grow and improve her already excellent ball-handling skills, tactical awareness and finishing," coach Heather Coonfare said. "She not only got better herself, but made others around her better."
This junior forward had 20 goals and eight assists to help Hilliard Darby reach a Division I district final for the third season in a row before losing to Dublin Jerome 3-2 in double overtime. A three-year starter, Walters was first-team all-OCC-Cardinal and all-district and second-team all-state as the Panthers finished 9-7-3.
"Naomi played a role in 50 percent of our total team scoring and she is a brilliant player that causes fits for the opposition due to her size and speed," coach Dan Brady said. "She is a determined player that has the ability to kick it higher into another gear, which is why she's getting considerable attention from Division I college programs."
Despite having just two seniors on its roster, Gahanna earned a share of the OCC-Ohio title and reached a Division I district semifinal as the seventh seed.
This sophomore midfielder was a big reason the Lions finished 10-3-5, as she totaled 15 goals and six assists.
Whittaker, whose father, Roger, is Gahanna's girls track and field coach, was named first-team all-league and all-district.
"Alexei Whittaker emerged as a force this year because of her work rate, technical skills and strength on the ball," coach Bob McGee said.
"Alexei's greatest characteristic as a soccer player is her knowledge of the game and ability to read the field. Alexei is like having another coach on the field who can lead, direct and instruct the team as she plays."Honorable mention
Emma Barthel, Dublin Coffman, Jr., M; Morgan Bodker, Big Walnut, So., D; Ryanne Buck, Reynoldsburg, Jr., F; Camryn Dees, Pickerington North, Sr., M; Deja Edwards, Westerville South, Sr., M; Isabella Ginocchi, Watterson, Sr., M; Brooklyn Harris, New Albany, So., F; Jana Lundy, Hilliard Bradley, Jr., D; Mikayla Martin, Westerville North, Sr., D; Taylor Molli, Gahanna, Jr., D; Riley Mullady, Dublin Jerome, Jr., M; Alanna Raikes, Worthington Christian, Sr., M; Morgan Reeb, Canal Winchester, Sr., D; Abby Reisz, Upper Arlington, Fr., F; Raj Robinson, Olentangy, Sr., D; Katie Schiano, Columbus Academy, So., M; Lara Schober, Dublin Coffman, Jr., M; and Addie Shock, Wellington, Sr., D/MPast captains
Pickerington North’s Alicia Donley (2017), Tahnai Annis (2006, 2007) and Molly Cornwell (2005); Gahanna’s Kaylee Hensley (2016); Grandview’s Haley Rees (2015); Olentangy Liberty’s Emma Ranalli (2014); Dublin Coffman’s Sam Edwards (2012, 2013) and Kelly Quinn (2003, 2004); Dublin Jerome’s Lindsay Agnew (2011); Upper Arlington’s Michela Paradiso (2008, 2009 and 2010); Bexley’s Megan Brake (2002); DeSales’ Ashley Schillig (2001), Tesia Kozlowski (1999, 2000) and Mindy Hammond (1997) and Thomas Worthington’s Ashley Swinehart (1998)