Kennedy Miller wants to put the ball in the goal so badly that sometimes she has to be told to hang back.

But once the Robinson junior got the ball in a prime position, there was nothing opposing defenses can do.

Miller led the area with 28 goals, including 13 in District 34-4A play to earn MVP honors, but she also showed she’s willing to give the ball up with 10 assists.

“She always wanted to score, but she sees the field so very well and is willing to play it off to other players,” Robinson coach Megan Monroe said. “She’s just really smart with the ball. She knows when to shoot and when to pass. She made a huge contribution to out team.”

With Miller’s help, the Rockettes found themselves atop the district standings for much of the season before settling for third.

Still, she showed her all-around ability to score, pass and even help defensively, and that made her the choice as the Super Centex Player of the Year.

“I think I’m a very team-oriented player,” Miller said. “I don’t want all the glory. My team helped me so much to get this award. It’s not just me. It’s my whole entire team. Everybody helped me so much, from the back line to the front line. No matter what, I just want what’s best for the team, so that helps a lot.”

Miller claimed the award over a pair of midway standouts in Audrey Johnston and Baylee Baccus, Belton’s Aubrey Martinez and University’s Kaitlyn Escobedo.

“Kennedy offensively and defensively was a backbone in the middle, along with our other junior Aubrie Jurek,” Monroe said. “Those two have played together for so long, even outside of school in club, and they just click and fed off one another.”

The Rockettes failed to reach the playoffs the year before, and Miller wasn’t pleased with that. She and the rest of the team committed to making ever effort possible to bring home a district title.

“In the past it’s been different, so as a team we all came together and said this is our goal and this is what we’ll have to do,” Miller said. “We’re going to have to put in extra work. As a team, we all had one goal. That was to get the district championship, which we didn’t maintain or get. At the same time, knowing we wanted that, we were all on the same page and it helped throughout the season.”

While Miller is known for her offensive exploits, the Rockettes were a stout defensive squad.

They shut out seven foes in district play, then added another one with a 4-0 victory over Waco High before coming up on the short end of a 1-0 score against College Station in the area round to end their season.

Even with the loss in that final contest, Miller was proud of her team’s effort, especially on the defensive end. College Station had an explosive offense that put together a long string of multiple-goal games, but the Rockettes put an end to that.

“It was throughout the back to the front. The forwards having to come back to defend on College Station’s game, and we played phenomenal,” Miller said. “There was nothing more we could have done, but as defense, it was just a mistake we made. But throughout the game mistakes happen. That was something we had to come back for, but we defended as a team, and we did that all year. That was why the goals against us were so limited.” Robinson will have plenty to replace next season, as it loses eight seniors. Despite that senior presence, Miller was the team’s leader and helped control the game in the midfield. She’ll have to repeat that next season, as she and Jurek will be the only two seniors.

“Kennedy’s going to be fine as a senior leader,” Monroe said. “She is a leader already as a junior. A lot of the girls look up to her, and even the seniors looked up to her. So being a junior and having seniors asking her how to do something, that’s just leadership all the way through. The girls coming up, I have no doubt they’re going to look up to Kennedy just like all the girls did this year.”

Coach: Robinson’s Megan Monroe

It wasn’t long ago that Megan Monroe was a standout for a Midway program that routinely made deep runs in the playoffs.

Now she’s trying to get her own program to that same level as a coach.

In her first year heading up Robinson’s program, Monroe, who graduated from Midway in 2007, took a squad that had failed to make the playoffs the year before and transformed it into a contender.

“I’ve been in their shoes before. I’ve been in the high school situation, and I can relate to them,” Monroe said. “I don’t know if it’s because I am young and I can relate to them at that point right now, but I never felt like the girls didn’t ever not trust me or believe in my skill to get them somewhere. No matter what I did with them, they (said), ‘Yes Ma’am’ and ‘No Ma’am.’ They were great all the way through.”

That turnaround earned Monroe the nod as the Super Centex Coach of the Year, edging out Belton’s Wendy Knight and perennial contender for the award Mike Chapman of University.

“I’m very honored,” Monroe said of her reaction to the award. “I was very shocked because I’m competing with these big 4A and 5A districts in Central Texas, so I’m very honored to have this, especially at such a young age. It means a lot. It really does.”

During her two years as a coach – she was an assistant for Mexia’s boys’ squad for a year before coming to Robinson – she has seen how hard it is for a smaller school to compete at a high level in soccer.

They’re really 3A schools, but the UIL only offers 4A and 5A for soccer, so they have to play in the 4A division. The Rockettes managed to land in a district with schools its size, but that was no cake walk, either.

“It is really difficult, but even though our district was all 3A schools, we had a very strong district,” Monroe said. “I feel like that really prepped us for when we met 4A schools in the playoffs. It’s difficult. This is my second year coaching, and I’ve been with a 3A school both years, so I’ve witness on the boys’ and girls’ side it is a struggle. The girls used it this year as a fire to be that 3A school that made a difference competing as a 4A program.”

Despite all of that, Monroe and the Rockettes went to work.

They got off to a fast start and found themselves atop the district for much of the season before hitting a bit of a dip and falling to third.

“I feel like we were a very strong third seed,” Monroe said. “We had first place for quite a while, and that was a really big goal for us all year. It was something the girls’ program hadn’t done in a long time, so it was really good for the girls to see themselves in first place for three or four weeks I guess it was.”

Any kind of success is something to build on for the future and to help jumpstart a program. That’s what the Rockettes are trying to do, but it won’t be easy. They’ll only have two seniors left, but one of them is Super Centex Player of the Year Kennedy Miller, and she’s excited to see what Monroe can put together.

“With the people we’re losing, I’m sad we’re losing them, but I feel like we can build a very strong program with what we have now if we just keep working with fundamentals from front to back and just teaching the game of soccer,” Miller said. “Because we are a (4A) not everybody comes in knowing how to play, but I think Coach Monroe does a very good job of teaching the basic things and the needs from different levels of players. I think we have a very bright future next year, and I’m excited to be part of it.”

Newcomer: Olivia Segura, University

Defense is important in all sports, but few emphasizes it like soccer.

Most of University’s success came because of its strength on that end of the field, and it was a freshman in the middle of that unit.

Olivia Segura admitted she was nervous before her first game as a Lady Trojan, but she quickly became a force on the back line. With her help, University allowed only eight goals in district play and claimed the District 33-4A crown before reaching the area round of the playoffs.

It was that kind of effort that allowed Seguira to be named district’s Newcomer of the Year, and she’s added the Super Centex Newcomer of the Year award.

“It’s just a real amazing experience for me,” Segura said. “As a freshman, I thought I couldn’t do it, but I stepped it up and learned how to play with the big dogs, and just played my game.”

Segura comes from a soccer family, as her older brother and sister have both played for coach Mike Chapman at University. Chapman knew all along that Segura’s skill was good enough, but he expects her to become more vocal in the future.

“On the field, she’ll get better and better every year, and she’s well-deserving of this honor,” Chapman said. “What we’re going to expect more of in the future is more vocal and assume the leadership role.”

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First-team profiles

AUBREY MARTINEZ

Jr, Forward

Belton

District 8-5A co-MVP deftly navigated defenses on her way to 25 goals, 3 assists.

BAYLEE BACCUS

Sr, Forward

Midway

Three-year letterwinner, prolific playmaker topped Midway with 22 goals, 14 assists.

KAITLYN ESCOBEDO

Sr, Forward

University

Lady Trojan team captain led 33-4A in scoring, putting 24 goals into net.

ANDE CARLTON

Jr, Forward

China Spring

Fleet-footed weapon notched 16 goals for playoff-qualifying Lady Cougars.

KENNEDY MILLER

Jr, Midfielder

Robinson

District 34-4A MVP, Player of Year confused defenses for area-best 28 goals.

LESLIE LUGO

Sr, Midfielder

University

A “vital part” of offense by her coach, team captain had 15 goals, 5 assists.

AUDREY JOHNSTON

So, Midfielder

Midway

2013 Newcomer didn’t slump, tallying 16 goals, 12 assists in playoffs.

JACEY LOVE

Sr, Defender

Belton

Area’s most relentless defender was 8-5A co-MVP; added 6 goals, 6 assists.

DIANA GALAN

Sr, Defender

Waco High

On-the-ball stopper helped curtail attacks for bi-district finalist Lady Lions.

COURTNEY DIPPEL

Jr, GK

Belton

Back-line force for a defense that produced a school-record 19 shutouts.

SAMANTHA DELGADO

Sr, GK

Robinson

34-4A Most Valuable Keeper saved four penalty kicks, won two shootouts.

OLIVIA SEGURA

Fr, Defender

University

33-4A’s top newcomer anchored defensive unit that yielded only eight goals in district.

MEGAN MONROE

Coach

Robinson

Former all-district soccer star at Midway directed Rockettes to area playoff round.

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