Rough brothers aided Meredith
ELIZABETH — Her brothers bumped her, they bruised her, and yet, Autumn Meredith is all the better for it.
The Elizabeth Forward soccer player was raised among three older brothers who loved playing rough with their sister in the backyard. In retrospect, those arduous afternoons have allowed Meredith to settle into the physical world of girls’ high school soccer like a Jeep in a mud pit.
“I’ll take hits that other girls say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe you did that,'” Meredith said. “My brothers played all my life in the backyard and they’ve pushed me around, so I’m used to it. I think I’m tougher because of it.”
At 5-foot-8, Meredith hardly acts or sounds like a brute. However, the standout striker has combined that grit with soccer skill to tally 15 goals this season.
The Lady Warriors’ captain has vaulted her team to a 6-1 record in Class AA’s Section 6, notching a hat trick last Monday at Uniontown and scoring twice to key a 3-0 win over Yough last Wednesday. The performance was enough to merit her The Valley Independent’s Athlete of the Week.
“Yough is the team that the center always goes wherever I go; every step I take and the girl is leaning on me,” Meredith explained. “It’s frustrating to play with someone on you every move you make, but after I scored my second goal, their coach screamed, ‘Get more people on her.'”
A soccer player since age 6 and a four-year varsity player, Meredith grew more accustomed to physical activity playing on her boys middle school team.
After taking over E-F’s sweeper position as a freshman, Meredith was promoted to forward last year. So, the linebacker moved into the quarterback position and the switch has paid off handsomely for EF.
“Everybody’s on the lookout; I’m used to having the (opposing) coaches talk about me by name,” Meredith said, sweetly. “I played defense my whole life, but I was happy because I was bored with sitting back and watching the action. I just went in open-minded and figured I’d have to adjust.”
One thing the senior has not adapted to is the continuing dominance of Ringgold in Section 6. E-F fell once again to the Lady Rams Monday in a 6-0 loss.
“Me and the other seniors were talking before the game and we know we have the ability, it’s just a mental thing,” Meredith permitted. “Ringgold is awesome but, when we play them, everyone is really nervous and scared. As a captain (Monday), I said, ‘We’re not going to lie it’s a big game but we can beat them’, but they scored the first goal so everyone got down.”
Meredith is undecided on a potential college. Benefiting from her brothers before her, she is content with waiting for the right offer. After all, she has a team to lead. The pressure is tame compared to the hard knocks from the Meredith siblings.
“I consider myself a team player and you look out for the team rather than individual glory,” Meredith said. “The girls come to me and say, ‘I want to score’ and I say, ‘Play hard for the team. Your opportunity will come.'”
Other candidates for Athlete of the Week: