The soccer ball looked to be attached by a string to the foot of Erica Meier. Cutting and weaving through defenders, she burst forward into space only to stop short and cut across the field before squaring to the net.
Shoot or pass? She was a threat either way.
The senior led the Longmont Trojans in goals and assists this spring, and though scoring may be her instinct, in this particular game, she found a creative way to let a teammate finish. The ball rocketed off her foot and did not rise higher than 10 feet above the ground for the nearly 30-yard distance until it hit hard off the crossbar. One of the Trojans' forwards was there to knock in the goal.
Meier, whose undeniable skill set combines with an unrelenting will and determination, pushed the Trojans to another victory that day. That ability to compete on an elite level while elevating the play of her teammates set her apart, and that's why she is the Times-Call Girls Soccer Player of the Year."She raised the intensity for the entire team. She had high expectations for herself and her teammates, and people wanted to do well for her," Longmont head coach Allison Douthit said. "I've never seen one player who could bring that out of everyone. They see her energy level and they try to match that."
Meier ended her final high school season with 16 goals and 12 assists and an appearance in the quarterfinal round of the Class 4A state playoffs, the program's deepest postseason run since 2003. She recorded 36 goals and 31 assists over the past three seasons, but statistics don't tell the true story.
You have to see it in person.
"I put a lot of energy into what I do," she said. "It kind of rubs off on other people. They see me putting my whole heart into things and want to work just as hard."
It's not just that Meier does not tire, or that she chases every loose ball or fights for every ball out of the air -- she does all of that. She's also accurate with her shot and crossing pass, and she can create in tight spaces and find a teammate open for the try.
She also is fearless.
"Ever since I was little I've thrown my body in the way of people. That's my competitive side, the daring side of me," she said. "I'd rather hurt myself than lose a game. I'm so competitive it's ridiculous."
Douthit added: "She's not scared to take anybody on."
Meier was a multi-sport standout for the Trojans, though soccer is passion. She will play for the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and she plans to contribute as a freshman. The Rebels made a coaching change since Meier signed her letter of intent, but that hasn't affected her decision.
"The more I watch their style of play, it reminds me of me. It fits my type of soccer," said Meier, talking about a possession game. "That's what I'm better at."
For the summer, she is working out six days a week -- three times a day on two of those days -- and playing for a U-20 team. She plans to arrive in Las Vegas on Aug. 1, with the first game following two weeks later. It is a big change, but one she is ready for.
"It's a little overwhelming," she said, adding that her family is moving from Longmont to the Pacific Northwest around the same time. "It will be good. Start fresh. Start something new."
Brady Delander can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALL-AREA GIRLS SOCCER
Forward -- Kelli Drobney, Silver Creek, So.: A playmaker, pure and simple. She was the key to the Raptors offense and was a multi-faceted threat with her combination of speed on the flank and instinct in front of the goal.
Forward -- Jamie Katuna, Longmont, Sr.: Athletic, driven and unrelenting, she moved seamlessly into her first season of soccer since eighth grade and attacked the goal like a seasoned pro.
Forward -- Morgan Lu, Mead, Fr.: She frustrated opposing defenses and even made some look silly at times. Fast and tireless, she seemed to be everywhere on the field all at once.
Forward -- Jacqueline Rigali, Frederick, Jr.: A true force, she broke out for 22 goals this season. Also a track standout, her ability to sprint was apparent, as was her feel for space near the net.
Midfield -- Katie Dulin, Alexander Dawson, Sr.: She led her team in goals (13) and assists (16), and she often scored in bunches. She finished two games with three goals and another three games with two goals.
Midfield -- Erica Meier, Longmont, Sr.: A proven leader and motivator who always pushed the pace, always looked to score and never gave an inch on either end of the field.
Midfield -- Emily Temple, Skyline, Sr.: While not the biggest, fastest or strongest player, she played with desire and drive. The Falcons` leading scorer was named the Class 4A Tri-Valley League player of the year.
Defense -- Jessie Greulich, Silver Creek, Jr.: Though new to the outside-back position this season, she thrived there. She could shut down most any striker and had the speed and skill to assist on attack.
Defense -- Annick Pearson, Niwot, Sr.: The leader of the team and the rock on defense, she gave all she had during every game.
Defense -- Molly Schwartz, Longmont, So.: A ferocious tackler in the backfield who played with purpose and a physical edge, she also employed accurate, long-range free kicks as a weapon on offense.
Defense -- Sadie Stark, Skyline, Jr.: She was active and smart on defense, but she was also versatile. She split time at forward during the season and was the team`s second-leading scorer.
Goalkeeper -- Hannah Schwartz, Longmont, Sr.: A rock in the net, she stunned opposing coaches with her ability to stop the seemingly unstoppable shot. She recorded five shutouts stopped nearly 90 percent of the shots on her goal.
Player of the Year -- Erica Meier, Longmont
Coach of the Year -- Allison Douthit, Longmont: She guided the Trojans to the Class 4A state quarterfinals for the first time since 2003.
Madison Boettcher, Silver Creek, Jr., MF; Crystal Chavez, Alexander Dawson, Sr., MF; Tessa Christopher, Longmont, So., D; Kailee Cox, Silver Creek, Jr., MF; Shanelle Cox, Frederick, So. D; Danielle Dageenakis, Silver Creek, Jr., MF; Sami Davison, Mead, Jr., GK; Amanda Dick, Longmont Christian, Sr., MF; Deandra Elcock, Skyline, So. F; Jazmyn Escobar, Frederick, So., MF; Maria Fayeulle, Niwot, Fr. F; Alex Godinez, Frederick, Jr., GK; Katy Hedlund, Niwot, Sr., D; Amy Loberg, Berthoud, Sr., F; Lexie Marr, Longmont, So., MF; Shayna Maypole, Mead, Fr., MF; Kasey McKrola, Mead, So., F; Kim Schoep, Niwot, Jr., GK; Tara Schulz, Skyline, Jr., MF; Breanna Smith, Skyline, Sr., MF; Bridget Stanton, Skyline, Sr., F; Jaelynn Thorn, Longmont, Sr., F; Cherokee Walker, Berthoud, So., MF; Gini Yost, Alexander Dawson, So., MF.