Winters Mill girls soccer coach Denny Snyder said when Anna Diffendal first stepped foot on the soccer field, something just clicked.
Snyder coached Diffendal in basketball when she was 6 years old, but she found her niche on the soccer pitch at age 4. Fast forward 12 years later and Diffendal, the Times Girls Soccer Player of the Year for a second consecutive season, closed out her high school career as the county’s leader with 40 points (18 goals, four assists).
The Falcons senior forward compiled 69 goals through four years to become the county’s third leading scorer behind 1997 Liberty grad Shanna Ziegenfuss (77) and 1995 South Carroll grad Amber Clutter (70).
“I take a look at Anna and she’s just phenomenal, one of the best student-athletes I’ve had the opportunity to work with,” Snyder said. “She set the tone on the soccer field and you knew she was something special when you saw her as a freshman. What she did and to be a four-year starter and to end up being the third leading scorer in Carroll County history is pretty special.
“The things people don’t see are the things she does off the field with her teammates. She makes them better and they see her working hard, the work ethic she brings each and every day. The team became better as a result of that.”
Diffendal helped the Falcons go undefeated in county play and capture their first county title since 2009 with a 2-0 defeat over Century on Oct. 10. Diffendal suffered a sprained knee ligament late in the second half of the Falcons’ first playoff game Oct. 31 against South Carroll, and the injury sidelined her through the remainder of the playoffs.
It was devastating, Diffendal said, but she did everything possible to be a supportive factor for her teammates as they captured the Class 2A West Region title and advanced to the state semifinal game, a match that ended the Falcons’ season with a loss to Hereford in penalty kicks.
Her absence on the field didn’t deter the Falcons from having one of their best seasons in program history. Her scoring potential is evident, but her unselfishness allowed teammates to come through as well.
Erin Snyder, a Times first team all-countian, scored both goals in WM’s defeat of Century that secured the county title. Diffendal assisted both of Snyder’s goals.
“That shows her versatility,” Denny Snyder said. “We ended our season there last year so I know the girls had kind of circled that game in their minds. You preach to take one game at a time but I know the feeling they had walking off that field. … For her to be able to recognize that she was being marked pretty tightly, she was able to serve two incredible balls and we were able to come away with it.”
Diffendal grew up watching her older sister Erica play soccer and said she always had a desire for the sport over basketball or lacrosse. When she joined the varsity as a freshman, she was welcomed into the team environment.
“It was just a very fun atmosphere, always,” Diffendal said. “The team chemistry was always good and there wasn’t ever a senior-freshman status when I came in which was very helpful with the transition. Everyone was so nice and even the skill of soccer was always high so I felt like I was improving at every practice.”
The dynamic forward committed to play soccer at Delaware as a sophomore and is passionate in pursuing a career in nursing. She said Delaware fit her personality academically and athletically, but she will miss her Winters Mill teammates and Snyder when she moves on to the next level.
“They always seemed to be in the right places,” Diffendal said. “Mr. Snyder was good at explaining how the wide mids need to be to the touch line or how the strikers need to support the [midfielders] so they can get the big balls out. Everyone was on the same page about where you should make the runs so I feel like that made it easier.”