High school coaches covet players who are versatile. But Marriotts Ridge coach Robin Grey says she got more than just a player who can plug a gap when Morgan Crable first pulled on a Mustangs soccer jersey four seasons ago.
"Morgan is unselfish and incredibly skilled, but her versatility is what makes her a blue-chip player and sets her apart from the rest of the pack," Grey said. "Her style of play is one of a perfect blend of power, finesse and smart play. Her presence on the field is undeniable."
More important, perhaps, she "plays at an elite level" no matter where she is on the field, Grey said. "This cannot be said of all players."
Crable, who usually starts at midfield but has played everywhere except in the net in her varsity career, can now add another achievement to her resume. She is the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier Player of the Year.
She was "a powerhouse and my triple threat," Grey said. Up top, "Morgan is our playmaker — an explosive, offensive power who has no problem exploiting the backfield and taking keepers one-on-one. When she is in the midfield, she is essential to our transition game. A natural defender, she is probably most comfortable in the back. Her ability to read an opponent is uncanny."
Crable registered at least one point in nine of the Mustangs' 14 games. She put in the game-winning goal in three games and twice assisted on game-winners, including the deciding goal in the Class 2A regional quarterfinal. "Reflecting back, Morgan probably had a hand in almost every goal we had this season," Grey said.
Crable started her soccer career as a striker. "Then one day somebody was missing" and her club team coach needed an outside defender, Crable said. That was in 2010, and defense soon became her position of choice on her club team. "I haven't moved since."
But Marriotts Ridge, saddled with injuries, had other voids to fill. In a two-game span, for example, Grey lost seven starters. "We were missing people. I moved everywhere. I enjoy playing anywhere on the field," Crable said. "I guess I had a good sense of where to play to make our team effective."
Grey said that particularly this year, Crable "gave confidence" to her teammates. "They feed off her. They ask for advice. She's a leader."
Crable said that "being able to play so many positions and still have people look up to me when I was on the field" is a highlight of her career.
Crable plays for the U-17 Freestate team that finished third in the national tournament two years ago, and she had many college suitors but the first one she visited won out. "I visited so many places but I kept coming back to Loyola." She says she'll feel comfortable there. Crable played for Greyhounds coach Katherine Vittori as an 8-year-old.
"Loyola could not have gotten a better gift," Grey said. "She's the most humble kid I've met. She plays so hard, but is the first to come off the field and be humble and gracious. It's refreshing. In a coach's career few come across like she does. Very few make an impact like she has made."
Marriotts Ridge entered the new season with high expectations, and even with all the injuries, the Mustangs advanced to the regional semifinal game against Long Reach. If not for the injuries, "we could have gone so much farther, but I wouldn't change anything. Everything was a learning experience," Crable said. "We had a young team but we stepped up and proved something to people who didn't think we would go as far as we did. We all grew as people."
Named to the all-county first team are:
Kristen Fawole, Long Reach. A four-year starter, Fawole used her lightning-fast speed to score a school-record 45 career goals, including 17 this fall. She also had 11 assists as a senior to lead Long Reach to its best season. "She used her speed to tenaciously press defenders," coach Erik Sandersen said. "She was always a threat to break away from the defense … to create a scoring opportunity."
Fawole set the tone with two unassisted goals in the county opener against Glenelg and got a breakaway goal to put Long Reach up, 1-0, in the regional semifinals against Marriotts Ridge. That last high school goal "gave the team a burst of confidence" and propelled it into the state semifinals for the first time in the school's history.
Alex Hamer, River Hill. Hamer, a repeat first-team pick, finished with 10 goals and 14 assists. "Once again she led the team in assists," coach Brian Song said. "She has knack for finding people in the right place. Alex is very unselfish and a great teammate." More often than not, Sheridan Street was on the receiving end of a Hamer setup.
Hamer has 26 assists in two years. Her long runs down the sideline were always a threat. "She has outstanding speed and she is a workhorse," Song added.
Katrina Macadoff, Atholton. With 11 goals and nine assists, Macadoff was almost always involved in the Raiders' offense. "We really relied on her as our offensive threat, both by scoring goals and with assists," said Stephanie Stoutenborough. "She is quick and powerful when she goes to goal. But she also can draw the defender in and lay the ball off to a teammate. Katrina is the type of player that makes things happen; she doesn't just sit up top and cherry pick."