Blount Press Row

Defend Deep

Player of the year Kolarik fully weaponized the restart

Maryville junior and Barley’s/BPR Player of the Year Abbey Kolarik is a game changer for soccer defenders. Photos by Wallace Bowden

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

Steve Feather’s been coaching high school soccer an awfully long time.

During a midseason tournament at Cleveland, the Maryville skipper moved central defender Abbey Kolarik to a more outside, winger position. We don’t know why, but that did it. Boom!

Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed.

Kolarik leans into a free kick during a match last season.

Kolarik, the inaugural Barley’s/Blount Press Row Player of the Year for girls soccer, responded to the change with the rarest of feats for a defender. The Samford University commitment dropped a hat trick on East Hamilton in a 4-0 Maryville win.

That’s not the half of it, though.

Kolarik’s triple sparked a Google search to see if any defender anywhere had ever done such a thing. The European Champions League, second only to the World Cup in prestige, saw it happen for the first time last October.

Swedish defender Medi Dresevic did it in August of 2016, but he was promptly sent off with a red card. Seems climbing into the stands to give yourself a round of applause is considered a tad unsportsmanlike.

There are a handful of others. Then there’s the other thing that made Kolarik’s feat so rare.

A full-time defender, Kolarik finished the 2017 season with a remarkable eight goals and 14 assists.

Each of the goals came on a well-taken free kick. Three free kicks. Three goals.

Kolarik credits former Tennessee scoring machine Mick Ingramm for teaching her the art of the free kick. A 2009 All-Southeastern Conference selection, the Lady Vol great struck for 10 game-winning goals at Tennessee.

“She would teach me how to bend the ball and get power behind it,” Kolarik said. “I try to aim for the back post so somebody there can get onto it.”

Former Maryville coach Bill Stooksbury wasted no time having Kolarik take all of Maryville’s free kicks when the latter arrived at the high school as a freshman.

Kolarik’s accuracy on set pieces extended to Maryville corner kicks, where the 5-foot-9 sprinter once bent one home for a goal.

For the season, Kolarik’s line of eight goals and 14 assists — totaling out at an even 30 points — ranks with the best in the district, defender or otherwise.

The Barley’s/Blount Press Row
All-Blount County Girls Soccer Team


 


Abbey Kolarik

Barley's/BPR Player of the Year
Maryville
Junior
Defender
Scouting Report:
The inaugural Barley's/BPR Player of the Year uncorked an unheard of feat for a defender in a midseason game against East Hamilton, dropping a hat trick on the Hurricanes -- ON THREE FREE KICKS! For the season, the Samford commitment finished with eight goals and 14 assists. Did we mention she's a defender?




Rachel Reid

Maryville
Junior
Defender
Scouting Report:
If you're going with a sweeper on your defense, she'd better be a Jedi. Reid is one of the best we've ever seen at reading play and positioning. From calling out marks to aid her backs to redirects on balls over the top to getting stuck in against heavy attacks, there's no one better.


Reyna Coston

Maryville
Junior
Midfielder
Scouting Report:
In three seasons, Coston has already tallied two of the most spectacular goals in Blount County history: a bicycle masterpiece off a crossbar rebound; a sweeping, waist-high volley on a driven cross. Coston finished 2017 with 13 goals, but don't get it twisted. This kid can really, really play.




Halle Foley

Alcoa
Junior
Defender
Scouting Report:
Foley has a combination of touch, toughness and decision making at the back that's compelling. Two goal-line saves in the state title match were difference makers. The ability to play the ball accurately with either foot separates Foley from all but a handful of defenders in the game.



Sydney O'Hara

Alcoa
Senior
Forward
Scouting Report:
O'Hara culminated the Lady Tornadoes' historic run with a state tournament-best five goals, encompassing all classifications. For the season, the senior striker knocked home 33 goals, assisting six others. The state tournament doesn't award a most valuable player award, but "Syd the Kid" would surely have won it if they did.





Grace Oliver

Maryville
Junior
Midfielder
Scouting Report:
Oliver is that blend of playmaking, toughness and touch essential on any winning soccer team. She can score, too, finishing atop the table for the Lady Rebels with 16 goals, tacking on a team-best 11 assists.



Reily McDonald

Alcoa
Junior
Goalkeeper
Scouting Report:
McDonald so excels at directing the defense in front of her you sometimes wonder if she could hold it down out there in a lawn chair. The Alcoa net minder allowed only 13 goals in the Lady Tornadoes championship season, pitching a shutout -- zero goals -- during postseason.




Peiton Bledsoe

Alcoa
Junior
Midfielder
Scouting Report:
Bledsoe's bending, left-footed missile in the state championship game all but guaranteed Alcoa's breakthrough state title. Arguably the strike of the season. For the campaign, the Lady Tornado playmaker finished with 10 goals and six assists.



Katlin Burger

Heritage
Freshman
Forward
Scouting Report:
In her first season at the high school level, Burger roared through with a new Blount County record for scoring. Pumping in an astonishing 40 goals, the Lady Mountaineer scoring machine went where no Blount County soccer player -- male or female -- has ever gone before. If you know of better, we'd sure like to know about it. Congratulations, Katlin!



Emma Rice

Maryville
Junior
Forward
Scouting Report:
Rice is that frontrunner who'll just battle for you and get stuck in. Kiera Giacomini chipped an out-of-position keeper with Maryville down a goal late to Science Hill. Rice roared forward to bang home the equalizer to save the match. For the year, Rice rang up 10 goals and 12 assists.


Lexi Bearden

Alcoa
Junior
Midfielder
Scouting Report:
Bearden possesses a skill set -- moves, light touch on the dribble -- that could produce a goal eruption next season. When you consider the nifty Lady Tornado tallied 28 bombs in 2017, that's really saying something. A team-best 15 assists herald a future All-State selection.

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