By Mike Blackerby
Versatility is what set Maryville defender Abbey Kolarik apart during the 2018 high school soccer season.
“She’s a versatile athlete who can play in back, up top and I actually think she can play inside too,” said Feather, who guided the Lady Rebels to a 19-2-3 record.
Other than playing keeper, there wasn’t much that Kolarik – the 5Star Preps girls soccer player of the year – shied away from on the pitch.
“So many athletes get pigeonholed into a position,” explained Feather.
“I think that one of the things that made her attractive to a college program like Samford is her versatility.”
The 5-foot-8 Kolarik was named all-state and was honored as the District 4-AAA defensive player of the year.
“What was special about her was her ability to shut down the top player on the opposing team,” offered Feather.
Kolarik, who started playing soccer at age 4, took great pride in her defense.
“Physical play is important to the game,” she said.
“You’ve got to stand tall and be confident. One of my favorite things to do was to make long runs up and down the field. One of the main things I focused on was reading the game and reacting.”
In crunch time, she was sometimes moved to forward – like in the final five minutes of the state quarterfinal game against Houston, with Maryville trailing 1-0.
“She could have had 20-something goals for us if she had played forward,” said Feather.
“It’s not often when you can say you’ve got a forward who is also a defender. To be able to play on the forward line and anchor the defense, as well, shows her range of versatility.”
Despite predominately playing defender, Kolarik still managed to score 10 goals and dole out 13 assists this season.
Feather said much of Kolarik’s success during her Maryville career was rooted in leadership, hard work and practicing like she played.
There were no supercilious moments at practice with Kolarik or other members of Maryville’s senior class, according to Feather.
“Abbey does everything at game speed,” he explained.
“She instilled a sense of work ethic and enthusiasm in our younger players.”
Kolarik said she’s looking forward to her next chapter at Samford, but will always cherish her time at Maryville.
“We’ve got 10 seniors at Maryville,” she said.
“I’ve been friends with many of them for my whole life. We’re all so close – even off the field. I’ve been really lucky.”