OXFORD HILLS—If you put a soccer ball at her feet, Mikayla Morrin will throw her head up and, instantly assessing the field, and move.
There will be defenders around, and it will seem as though she has little choice but to pass backward to the safety of supporting teammates and retreat or surely lose the ball.
The defender believes this too, and that’s why Morrin will allude them, capitalizing on their own assumptions by with a burst of speed. Her guile pays off; from here, she’ll might make a pass to set up the strikers now racing in front of her or – as her tally of 13 goals this past season suggest, or, as she did against Bangor in September, unleash a shot outside of the 18-yard box.
A spectator will think that she’s created the opportunity all by herself. Morrin will say her achievements are due to her teammates.
“I’m not going to get those awards and we won’t win games without my teammates. Without them I wouldn’t have gotten the award or score goals without them. I can’t beat 11 players,” Morrin said.
The newly crowned girls Class A Kennebec Valley Athletic Confererence’s Player of the Year was feared by opposing team for her long-range efforts, including a trio of strikes that netted her four goals against Edward Little.
Being a midfielder is about much more than scoring though, she says.
“It depends. When I have that open shot my teammates expect me to take those shots and in other instances when I’m not open I look to distribute and hopefully give them opportunities to score,” Morrin said
Passing the ball, maintaining a flowing attack, and working hard on defense are all parts of her game. Yet, she says, having a knack for scoring forces other teams to mark her closely, and that opens up play for her teammates.
“That’s the role of midfielder; to win the ball from the other team and look for those opportunities to get others to score. I look to mostly create, distribute when I can, and take the opportunities to score.”
“From my position most times I get those long distance shots. I don’t get any up close shots where you have to place the ball.”
Morrin led an Oxford Hills team that went 8-5-2, making it to the Eastern Class A Quarter Finals before bowing out to Brunswick at the end of October.
As one of the team’s leaders during the season, Morrin was under pressure to perform and took the team’s penalty kicks. The level-headed midfielder says she was not daunted by the mental game with the goalie.
“It’s about doing the same thing you do every time. You can’t psyche yourself out and think ‘Should I play differently than I usually do?”‘
Morrin, a junior, says practice and repetition are the keys to overcoming penalty-kick nerves.
“I don’t get worked up about it. It’s just another shot. I set the ball and I usually don’t make eye contact with the goalie.”
That tenacity, she says, is a by-product of playing with an older brother.
“Most times he was always the one to win and I think that pushed me – I wanted to beat him. So I would work harder and practice more than he does just to beat him in the little games we had.”
Morrin says she was first inspired to play simply because her brother did, but as she continued, began to love the game for its own right.
“I feel like it came naturally to me. When I was younger, I was good at it, so I thought maybe I could do something with this.”
Despite her impressive goal scoring record, Morrin says her greatest strengths are the little intangibles that don’t show up on a score sheet.
“I read the plays. When we don’t have the ball I’m always looking to win that ball, putting pressure on them to force them into a mistake,” she said.
Morrin was disappointed not to go further in the playoffs. Brunswick, which eliminated the Vikings from the playoffs Morrin’s freshman year, handed the girls one of their worst losses of the season, beating them 4-0. Still, she says, there’s a silver lining as the team improved from her sophomore year.
Morrin is cautious for the next season. She says several key components in this year’s successful run are graduating.
“Probably the most important slot to fill are the two strikers. They created opportunities for me. I’m not expecting us to go undefeated, but who knows,” she said.
In the future, she’d like like to play soccer in college. She’s still undecided exactly where, but she says more important than going to school with a prestigious program is the chance to play.
Outside of school, Morrin says she’s looking toward becoming a nurse – though presumably not to repair the bumps and bruises from a soccer match.