Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Smart on the Field; Player of Year Miller Excels in Part Because of Her 'Soccer Intelligence.'; ALL METRO - GIRLS SOCCER

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Smart on the Field; Player of Year Miller Excels in Part Because of Her 'Soccer Intelligence.'; ALL METRO - GIRLS SOCCER

Article excerpt

For Jenn Miller and her Cor Jesu teammates, a storybook season concluded this month in a 3-0 win over Lee's Summit North to wrap up the Missouri Class 3 soccer championship in suburban Kansas City.

"It's something we'd talked about and worked toward for the last three seasons. To see it all come together was unbelievable," said Miller, the Post-Dispatch All-Metro player of the year. "In January, the seniors met with our coaches and basically mapped out a plan to get where we wanted to be this spring. Our focus from that point on was to win a state championship, and I don't think any of us ever lost that focus."

The top team in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings, the Chargers won their last 15 matches to cap a 23-2 season. In state play at Blue Springs South, they dominated before coming up with a late goal from senior Maria Merlo in a 1-0 semifinal win against Springfield Glendale, then blitzed Lee's Summit North in the championship with three early goals.

"Over the course of a season, you expect a letdown or two," coach Missy Bruno said. "But this group really didn't experience that. Sure, we lost a couple of games when we were tired and beat up, but overall, this team was as consistently good as any I've coached."

And a big reason for that was Miller's strong play in the middle of the field.

"Jenn was our go-to player," Bruno said. "Our defenders looked to Jenn as an outlet, and then we relied on her to organize and run the attack. She's a gifted athlete with a tremendous work rate, but what I love most about Jenn's game is her soccer intelligence. She reads and understands the game so well, and I think that gives her an ability to bring out the best in everyone around her."

Miller, 18, said she was merely doing her job.

"As a central midfielder, you have to control the game, to win the ball and get it to your forwards," she said. "In club (play), I'm more of a distributor, somebody looking to switch fields and keep everybody in the flow of the game. With Cor Jesu, I was able to attack a little more and ended up scoring some big goals."

Miller, who posted 14 goals and six assists, had a number of important goals, none bigger than the 35-yard blast that eluded the Lee's Summit North keeper to open the Class 3 title match. …

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