ALEX SPONSELLER/ Journal Tribune: Thornton Academy’s Hannah Niles jogs downfield in the 2016 season. Niles was named the Journal Tribune’s girls soccer MVP.

ALEX SPONSELLER/ Journal Tribune: Thornton Academy’s Hannah Niles jogs downfield in the 2016 season. Niles was named the Journal Tribune’s girls soccer MVP.

By ALEX SPONSELLER

Associate Sports Editor

After a slow start to the 2016 season, the Thornton Academy girls soccer team cruised to a 4-1 finish and qualified for a spot in the Class A South playoffs.

A major part of the Trojans’ improved play was the emergence of sophomore Hannah Niles, who’s red-hot finish propelled TA to the next level.

Niles proved to be one of the state’s best offensive players, and also demonstrated great versatility as well.

“The thing about Hannah is that she can play multiple positions on the field for us. She also scored 11 goals with five assists … we scored 24 goals and she was a part of 16 of them so she had a pretty big impact on our offense,” said TA coach Chris Kohl. “She’s been our leading scorer in the last two years and she will continue to get better in the next two years as well.”

Although Niles is just a sophomore, she showed the ability to produce under pressure while being called on when the going got rough. Kohl believes that her maturity and intelligence is what led to her strong performance in key situations.

“That’s a lot of pressure for a kid to have to sometimes carry the team,” said Kohl. “She’s just a sophomore, but that definitely shows how mature she is. She has a high IQ for the game, she is a very sure kid and has great knowledge.”

Niles’ soccer smarts and talent stem from her hard work and dedication, and the constant desire to improve each day.

“She’s very coachable — she always wants to get better and she always asks great questions. She works really hard — she works on the field but she also works hard in the fitness aspect as well. She’s a strong player and is really committed to herself and playing at the highest level that she can play,” said Kohl. “That’s why she has such a high ceiling — she wants to get better and that is a rarity, sometimes kids are content with where they are but she strives to get better every day.”

The Trojans look forward to 2017, and Kohl expects Niles to continue to improve while also becoming a strong leader on and off the field for TA.

“She’s very vocal on the field and we have been working on how to be a leader … she’s only a sophomore and she’s getting better. We have a lot of the same kids returning next year and this gives us a lot of momentum.”

— Associate Sports Editor Alex Sponseller can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 323. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.


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