Aicha Wilson is the fastest girls soccer player in Howard County.
At least, that’s what Gia Johnson, her Wilde Lake teammate and close friend, believes.
“Oh, by far the fastest,” said Johnson. “Coming down the wing where she plays, she zooms past everyone. She’s a beast out there.”
Wilson’s speed was on display Thursday in Wilde Lake’s 3-0 win over visiting Centennial. The junior forward scored the Wildecats’ first goal, utilizing her speed to create separation from the defender and firing a shot from 20 yards out past the goalie.
“Aicha has such incredible talent,” said Wilde Lake head coach Megan Shea. “She can take pretty much anyone one-on-one, because she does have that advantage speed wise. That’s usually the situation we want to put her, where we can give her the ball and she just has to get past one or two defenders.”
Junior forward Aicha Wilson and Gia Johnson talk Wilde Lake girls soccer after the Wildecats' 3-0 win over Centennial on Thursday, Sept. 19.
Johnson, who assisted Wilson’s goal, scored the Wildecats’ other two goals, both off corner kicks — one with her head and the other with her knee.
“She’s technically sound, but her biggest asset is how strong she is, how confident she is and how gritty of a player she is,” Shea said. “That’s really what made her succeed on those two corners. She outworked everyone on the field. She wanted to connect with that ball more than anyone who was defending her.”
Centennial coach Hank Hurren said his team wasn’t “aggressive” enough on the corner kicks, which provided Johnson, a sophomore, with two good looks at the goal.
“Corners are straightforward,” Hurren said. “You go get the ball or you don’t. Whoever gets there first has the best chance.”
Centennial (2-1 Howard County, 4-2) has lost two straight games after starting 4-0. Hurren said he was pleased with his team sticking with a “strong” Wilde Lake squad.
“Angie and Nicole are some of my favorite types of players,” Shea said. “They’re so tough, but they’re skilled as well. They know that since our goalie is new this year and is only a sophomore, those two seniors have realized they need to be tough. … And Hannah came up big a couple of times, because Centennial had some great opportunities there.”
Wilson scored her goal 12 minutes into the contest at Wilde Lake High School, and Johnson put the Wildecats up 2-0 with five minutes remaining in the first half. Johnson then sealed the victory for the Wildecats with less than five minutes left in the game. Jillian Ingram assisted Johnson’s first goal, and Ashlyn Bonner kicked the corner on Johnson’s second goal.
Johnson, who finished third in the county in points (27) as a freshman last year, already has 12 points this season in five games. She and Wilson, who has eight points this year, are a few of the Wildecats players who are tasked with replacing the senior class that led Wilde Lake to a 13-2-1 record last season. The Wildecats lost Julianne Bonner, Lily Dunbar and Jenna Hutchison — all of whom are now playing Division I soccer — to graduation.
“Gia is really a leader on our team, because she talks to everyone and makes sure they know what they’re doing,” Wilson said. “She’s able to score a lot, too, and she’s racking up points already this season.”
Wilde Lake is now 2-1 in county play and 4-1 overall. The Wildecats lost 1-0 to Howard last week, which Shea said was a “wake-up call.”
“Howard has made some huge strides as a program and they were much improved, but after that loss, all of the girls said that this loss was not us and this isn’t what we’re used to,” Shea said. ““That game showed us that we needed to step up, because other teams are going to be ready to play us this year.”
Both teams are back in action Tuesday, Sept. 24. Centennial hosts Reservoir, while Wilde Lake plays at home against River Hill.