Genoa girls soccer coach Mike Harder knew he would somehow have to replace two graduating seniors who accounted for more than 30 goals last season, so he turned to sophomore forward Madison Sheahan.
Sheahan, who scored four goals as a part-time starter a year ago, has pulled her weight this season and has turned out to be the team player Harder hoped she’d be. Through 15 matches, Sheahan led the Comets in scoring with 13 goals and six assists.
“I’ve even had compliments from a few referees on how she’s going to be some kind of player,” Harder said. “She’s matured leaps and bounds over last year. I had something like 33 goals to make up from last year and I challenged Maddy prior to the season to pick up that slack. She’s doing a wonderful job.”
|Madison Sheahan knows how to use her feet.
Last tear, as a Genoa freshman, she became
the Northern Buckeye Conference 1,600 meter
track champion. Early this fall, she scored 4 of
Genoa's 6 goals beating Northwood 6-0. (Press
photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.com)
Sheahan and the rest of Genoa’s young squad got off to a rocky start this season. The Comets were 2-3 following losses to Eastwood, Woodmore and Oak Harbor. They rebounded to win five of their last seven, including a 2-2 tie with Eastwood and a 3-1 win over Woodmore on Sept. 29.
They were 9-5-1 and 5-3-1 in the Northern Buckeye Conference heading into Thursday’s match with Lake.
“We might have lost to some teams we shouldn’t have,” Sheahan said. “We have come back to play better ever since the first Woodmore game. At the beginning of the season our freshmen weren’t all there. Now they’ve really gotten used to playing the varsity soccer that we play.”
Sheahan often sounds like a future coach when she describes how the Comets have turned things around.
“Alexis Ortiz (senior center midfielder) came back from an ankle injury from softball season and has come back to play to the best of her potential right now,” Sheahan said. “Abby Karikas (center defender) controls the defense. I’m really been lucky to play with those guys, and they’ve brought the team together. We’re working better as a team and trusting each other. Now we know we can beat teams that we didn’t think we could at first.”
Another big reason for Genoa’s success in the last few weeks has been Sheahan’s on-field chemistry with fellow forward Mollie McGhee, a freshman who has 10 goals and four assists. The two played together for the first time in a league this summer.
“It’s awesome playing with her,” Sheahan said. “We have figured out how to work together and work off each other’s passes. We didn’t really start playing this well together up until a couple games into the season. That’s when we started beating teams.”
Sheahan said getting the freshmen acclimated to varsity action played a big role in Genoa’s resurgance.
“None of us had the opportunity to play with them before,” Sheahan said. “Our team plays a different style of soccer than their club team did. Mollie was a little timid at the beginning of the season. The (varsity) girls are kind of scary, and bigger. I was kind of timid as a freshman.”
Sheahan and McGhee probably wouldn’t be playing alongside each other had Jaime Kreager not torn her ACL over the summer.
“I was supposed to be up front with Jaime,” Sheahan said. “I was really excited to be able to play with her because she didn’t play last year. We were scoring a lot of goals in the summer. When she got hurt, Mollie stepped into that position. For her to step up was really cool. She’s been playing really good lately. With her stepping up, and with our goalie, Olivia Reno, stepping up, everyone’s working together. I wanted to make sure Mollie stepped up and played our style of soccer. I knew she was capable.”
Harder said watching Sheahan and McGhee bond so well has been a blessing for the Comets.
“They’re kind of playing off each other,” he said. “Maddy is our target player up to midfield. She’ll turn and see where Mollie’s going. You can see it on almost every game tape, where they’re turning for that next pass and it will be where the other one’s running to. They have the kind of chemistry where one of them knows where the other one’s going.”
Sheahan started out on fire offensively, scoring six goals in Genoa’s first few matches. She scored four goals in a 6-0 rout of Northwood on Aug. 28 and dreamed of breaking the school single-season record of 28 goals.
“Mike thought it would be within reach for me to get that,” Sheahan said. “I was kind of hoping to get that record. It was kind of a goal to be the leading scorer on the team. Right now I am, and Mollie has 10 goals. It was never really a plan at the beginning to break the record, but at the same time it would be pretty cool, too.”
Harder said Sheahan is one of the most enthusiastic and energetic players he has ever coached.
“She always has a positive attitude,” he said. “She’s always 110 percent, picking everybody up. When other girls score goals, she’s the first one there to congratulate them. She doesn’t have blazing speed, but she can run for 80 minutes and she’s a team player.”
Sheahan added, “We’re a team that has to communicate to play our best. I always want to play for them on the field. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am scoring-wise. I try to be the best I can.”