When Molly Martin was a junior playing for the Canfield High girls soccer team in 2007, she predominantly was a passer from her midfield position and rarely scored.
However, in her senior year (2008), everything changed and the opposite happened — she became the Cardinals’ leading scorer — but still as a midfielder.
Then Martin took her new-found offensive skills to the Walsh University team in 2009, and continued her strong offensive momentum to lead the Cavaliers in scoring this past season as a freshman with 13 points on five goals and three assists.
As a reward for a strong rookie year, Martin recently was named to the 2009 NAIA All-Ohio Team, which recognizes the top 15 NAIA players from Ohio.
Before that, she was selected to the American Mideast Conference second team.
“This is my biggest honor. I was really surprised. I didn’t believe it,” said Martin about the All-Ohio recognition. “I made the All-AMC second team and I thought that was a big deal.”
Her selection also restored her faith in the fair-mindedness of coaches.
“I thought coaches liked only their own players, but I guess they recognize other players,” she said.
Martin said the same thing that happened to her at Canfield to change her to a scorer also happened at Walsh.
“In my junior year [at Canfield], I had like 10 assists and maybe one score, and my senior year I had the most goals on the team with 16 goals and one assist,” said Martin, crediting coaching for her change.
“The coaches encouraged me to play more offense. We got a new coach my senior year, Phil Simone.”
When Martin arrived at Walsh under new coach Sara Renard, Martin said, “[Renard] started me in the midfield, and near the end of the season I started as a forward. She moved me mainly because I was taking more shots. I got most of my goals late in the season when I was playing forward, and I only had one as a midfielder.”
Although Martin prefers passing the ball, she is glad to be in a scoring position now to help her team’s offense.
“I’m more of a passer. I like to distribute the ball from the midfield to other players. But I’m glad to be in position to score some points because I got some important goals,” she said.
Martin has been playing soccer for more than 10 years.
“I have been playing soccer since I was really little, about 5 or 6 years old. I was real young. I played all four years at Canfield, three on the varsity team,” said Martin, the daughter of Luann and Daryl Martin.
She is majoring in special education with a 4.0 grade-point average.
Martin is one of seven area players on the Walsh soccer team, which also includes four Mooney High graduates: Maggie Vinopal, a freshman midfielder from Boardman, Colleen Hernan, sophomore defender from Poland and Emma Engler and Kelly Sklenar, freshman defenders both from Canfield. The others are Chloe Zidian, freshman forward from Boardman and Michelle Sloan, freshman midfielder from Maplewood.
Vinopal had the distinction of making two goals in only three attempts to have the highest scoring percentage on the team at .667. She played in 13 games.
John Kovach covers college athletics for The Vindicator. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.