The LaFayette High School soccer program has had its share of outstanding soccer talent over the years and the 2019 season was no exception.
This year, two of the school’s top talents, Megan Wilson and Ethan Kennedy, have been named as the Walker County Soccer Players of the Year.
Wilson took the girls’ award after a junior campaign that saw her lead the Lady Ramblers with 15 goals and 10 assists.
“I’m very honored and blessed,” she said. “This is exciting. I thought I might be a contender for it, but I really didn’t think I would actually get it.
“I knew I had quite a few goals, but I really didn’t know how many I actually had. I think that I stepped up a lot from last year. I moved positions. Last year, I was a defender and this year I started at forward, so that was a big change, but I feel like I played it pretty well.”
LaFayette followed up last year’s surprising season with stellar performances all season long. After a loss to Northwest Whitfield in the Region 6-AAAA opener on March 5 dropped them to 1-1-3 on the year, the Lady Ramblers caught fire and reeled off nine consecutive victories. Five of them came in region play, including a thrilling 1-0 win at Heritage, which helped give LaFayette a share of the region’s regular season title.
Region tiebreakers would ultimately make them the No. 3 seed from the region for the Class 4A state playoffs where they would fall on the road to traditional state power Marist.
Wilson said she felt pressure as a veteran player to step up in the face of some key graduation losses from the 2018 roster.
“I knew that we were going to have to count on the older players to do a lot because we had a lot of younger girls on the team,” she explained. “The older girls had a lot on their shoulders, but I think we worked well together.”
Wilson said she plans to play club ball in the offseason and hopes to earn a scholarship to play the sport in college, while also helping LaFayette to what she hopes will be another big season on the pitch.
“(Team-wise), we want to play like we did this (past) year,” she added. “Individually, I just need to work on my foot skills and try and score some more, but that all depends on where Coach (Whitney) Brown puts me.”
The 2019 season was also a big year for Kennedy, who said he was honored to be named as the top boys’ player in the county.
“I definitely could not have done it without the team,” he said. “They helped me do this. I’m very, very honored and somewhat surprised, very surprised actually, but it feels pretty awesome.”
After a run to the state playoffs in 2018, the Ramblers began the 2019 season 3-0-2. However, LaFayette would endure more than their share of close, heartbreaking losses the rest of the way, forcing them to miss the postseason. However, they would battle back with some solid performances to close out the year as they looked to build momentum for the offseason.
“We had a couple of tough losses (in region play),” he explained. “But by the end of the season, we had a bunch of guys step up and our play started to pick up.”
Kennedy added that he was grateful just to be back on the field this season. A promising sophomore campaign ended earlier than expected as an injury and subsequent illness robbed him of most of the season. However, he said he was determined to get back this year and regain his form.
“I honestly could not wait to get back on the field,” he said. “It was really hard just laying there. It was really tough, so it was awesome to get back on the field. I really missed it and everybody on the field helped me get back to it.”
Coming up on his senior year, Kennedy is hoping to end his time at LaFayette in style after 13 goals and three assists this past season.
“We’re looking to just get better and play better as a team,” he added. “Individually, I just want to help us do that. I just need to be a leader on the field to help us win games.”