Athlete of the Week, Lydia Mitchell

Maryville senior Maddie Holtman (right) congratulates teammate Lydia Mitchell (left) on scoring a goal in the first half of the game March 22 in the Spoofhounds’ home victory against Harrisonville.

For four years, Lydia Mitchell has been a staple at midfield for Maryville girls soccer. In her senior season, Mitchell has embraced a role of leadership that seems bound to lead Maryville soccer on a deep postseason run.

In some ways, Mitchell’s personal performance for the Spoofhounds has served as second fiddle all season, often yielding goals and headlines to her sophomore teammate Morgan Pettlon.

The formula has been effective and potent for the Spoofhounds, winners of nine of their first 11 games, in part because Mitchell has been such an excellent teammate.

While the mold that the ‘Hounds have used to win game after game doesn’t pad Mitchell’s stats or highlight her own dynamic scoring ability, it has been paramount to the success of the team.

“This year has been very different from any other year,” Mitchell said. “It’s really important to me just because I’m a senior, but also because it’s my last chance with all these girls.”

As the case with any high school athlete, Mitchell recognizes her senior season is the last opportunity to make a deep postseason run. The Spoofhounds’ superb start to the season provides some hope to fuel the fire for the team as they inch closer to the finish line.

Mitchell, like her teammates, has been here before. Still, this season has offered an unfamiliar sensation to go along with the usual day-to-day grind of the season.

“There’s just something different about the atmosphere of the team,” Mitchell said. “Everybody really wants to work, and everybody really, really wants to win. It’s a brand new atmosphere that everyone has bought into. It makes soccer fun, and it makes me want to be here.”

With each and every win, Maryville inches closer to a common goal. Perhaps the sensation felt by Mitchell, unlike any she’s felt in her career, is the product of a winning culture instilled by coach Dale Reuter. The “brand new atmosphere,” as Mitchell called it, is more likely an intended outcome of Reuter’s design.

“(Reuter) has always been a really big supporter of me and of all the other girls,” Mitchell said. “He really does his best to make it an even playing field, and that is, I think, why our team is so successful: it’s a competitive atmosphere. You’re not just handed a spot, you have to earn it.”

The senior, who has committed to continue her playing career at Knox College, credited her coach for much her own success. Reuter vocalized Mitchell’s commitment as the driving force in her development as a player.

“She’s a very focused individual,” Reuter said. “She just works so hard at it; she spends a lot of time just working shots. She’s just always been solid for us, and has gotten better and better every year.”

Mitchell is hopeful that the continuous labor she has put into the sport will payoff for the Spoofhounds this season. Regardless of the outcome, soccer has been paramount to Mitchell throughout her high school career.

“Maryville soccer has been the driving force of my high school career,” Mitchell said. “I’m not going to lie, it’s something I look forward to in the offseason. It’s always been my main focus. I love it here.”

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