River Hill senior midfielder Katie Arensmeier didn't hesitate when asked what her favorite soccer moment was in her three years on varsity.
The Hawks were tied with Howard County rival Centennial, 1-1, late in a game on Senior Night last season when she alertly threw the ball in to then-freshman Alex Hamer down the right side. After carrying the ball a few yards, Hamer sent a wicked shot that found the upper-right corner for the game-winning goal. The win paved the way for another Howard County championship for the Hawks. Arensmeier was happy for the team, happy for the seniors and also happy for Hamer.
When it came down to selecting captains for this year's team, River Hill coach Brian Song also didn't hesitate when he made Arensmeier the only one. "With Katie, it's not about her; it's about everybody else and the team. It's an honor and she earned it," Song said.
Days after the Hawks were upset by Atholton early in the playoffs last year, Arensmeier started a countdown on her iPhone of how many days remained until the Hawks returned to the field. It's been worth the wait. Ranked No. 4 in the metro area, the Hawks are 7-0 this season going into Thursday's game against Mount Hebron.
"Soccer is my favorite part of high school overall. It's the best experience I've had here," said Arensmeier, who has four goals and eight assists this season.
What makes this senior season even more special for Arensmeier is that she will be leaving the area after her father earned a promotion with his job taking him to Milwaukee. Arensmeier, who maintains a 3.7 grade point average, is considering Marquette University with plans to major in physical therapy. She's also is a standout basketball player at River Hill.
What makes this year's team special?
I think what makes us special is we have so many different people that bring so many different things that when we put everybody together, it works out so well. We have Sheridan [Street] and Alex [Hamer] up top and they're amazing. And then we have some new freshmen and they're bringing their own talents and everybody from last year has improved and brought their bits to the team.
What's it like being the team's only captain?
I was really surprised that I was named the only captain. I was honored, of course, but I didn't know what to expect. I was like, 'Oh no, everything is put on me.' I was really scared, but like I said it's an honor and I feel honored to be that player that everybody looks up to. But with that said, I don't want to be that only person that people look up to. I want all my other teammates to know that they can take on that leadership role. Everybody has to look up to each other and have each other's backs.
What's it going to take for the Hawks to win a state title?
First, it's going to take a lot of hard work. I think last year, we kind of looked too far ahead and weren't focused on the game that was right in front of us. Looking back on it, you're really kind of disappointed in yourself and the team for thinking that way. So this year, every single game — no matter who it is, what their record is and no matter how we did against them last year — we have to come in thinking there's no tomorrow. Even if it's not in the playoffs, we have to start with that mentality now. I keep telling everyone that we don't want what happened last year to happen again.
What are you looking to do with the ball at your feet?
What we try to do as a team is play possession. We don't like playing the kick-and-run style. So as an outside midfielder, I really like to beat people, get down the line and cross it over. There's nothing more satisfying than when you beat someone, cross it and a teammate finishes to get that assist. Or if you're actually that person to finish — it's so exciting.
What do you enjoy most — assisting on a goal or scoring one?
That's so hard. I feel like most people would say that they like to finish the ball, but I think they're both awesome. I get so much satisfaction when I send over a cross and play it to someone who finishes it. I know Sheridan, for example, will always come running to me first and say 'Thank you' for that pass. You feel like you were a part of that finish and it all works together.
What's it like being a senior in high school?
Oh gosh — it's overwhelming and especially since I'm moving away next summer. I keep thinking this is my last year here. So I literally think about everything in that way: This is my last time doing this, this is my last year doing that, this is our last time playing Long Reach at home … everything. So I just think I've got to go out as hard as I can for everything — soccer, school. It's crazy to think I'm a senior because it felt like yesterday I was a freshman.
What are you going to miss most about this area?
It's kind of tricky because I'm going to college anyways, but it will still be a big change. You know when you go off to college and then you have some place to come home to. I'm going to be going home to a new home, so I think that's what I'll miss most is just not having the place I've called home for a long time. I'm going to miss the people here, and I'm going to miss River Hill. And oh yeah, I'm going to miss Chick-fil-A! They don't have them [in Milwaukee].