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Howard County Times
Howard County Sports

Reservoir senior midfielder Kylie Toler earns Howard County girls soccer Player of the Year honors

At one of the last practices of the season, Reservoir coach Phil Ranker gathered his team and announced who had been named the Howard County girls soccer Player of the Year. When her name was announced, senior midfielder Kylie Toler was more than surprised.

"I didn't believe him," Toler said. "I was like, 'You're messing with me.' I didn't see it coming. I wanted to be up for it but I didn't actually think it was going to happen. I was really happy. I was excited."

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The senior had established herself as one of the best players in the county over the past two years, helping the Gators to a 3A South region title as a junior and an 8-4-2 record this fall. Despite all the success, Toler didn't expect the accolade, though it was an individual goal she always strived for.

"Not at all," said Toler in regards to thinking she'd ever earn Howard County Times/Columbia Flier girls soccer Player of the Year honors. "It was a goal, but I didn't actually [think I'd] reach that goal. I had it in the back of my mind."

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As a captain this season, Toler finished twith five goals and three assists and ends her four-year varsity career with 14 goals and 18 assists.

"I didn't have a large role coming in as a freshman but I think over the years I've just become more confident, and my teammates also helped me because we all just worked together and played really well together, so that helped a lot," she said. "I just got more leadership qualities I think as the years went on."

Like many kids, Toler started playing soccer at a very young age, "probably four or five years old," she said. But it wasn't until she got to high school that she realized she had the potential for a bright future in the game.

"I kind of played and had fun. I didn't really think about scoring or how many goals," Toler said. "Now I want to play in college, while before I didn't really consider it. I wasn't thinking about it."

Toler still hasn't made her college plans official but is currently deciding between the Division-II program at Walsh University and Division-III St. Mary's College of Maryland.

Howard County girls soccer all-county team 2016

She is excited to continue her soccer career, especially after having her final season as a Gator come to an abrupt end.

Reservoir was eliminated from playoff contention after a 3-2 loss to the eventual 3A South region champion, Centennial, after earning the No. 3 seed and a first round bye.

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"I don't want to feel that feeling that I had after our last game anytime soon, so I have another four years hopefully of playing," Toler said. "I thought our last game against Centennial was our best game that we played this year. They are a very good team and we stuck in there for the whole game, basically. I don't know, I thought we kind of took for granted last year and we kind of thought, 'Oh, we got it this year.' But Centennial just got it."

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Howard County girls soccer final standings 2016

Though the end of her high school career didn't go as planned, she still led the Gators to heights they haven't reached since winning the state championship in 2010. They surprised many, and even themselves, when they won the regional title last year for the first time since 2011. Reservoir struggled at the start of the season and didn't win its first game until its fifth contest, but behind Toler and a strong senior class the team started clicking at the perfect time. The Gators went on to defeat the Eagles, Long Reach and Westminster to win their fifth-ever regional championship.

"For sure — that was a great game," said Toler of winning the region title as a career highlight. "It feels good because when you look back in 10 years and think, 'What did you like about high school?' that is probably going to be the main thing that I will think of — winning a regional championship."

Howard County girls soccer scoring and goalkeeper leaders of the 2016 season.

Reservoir eventually fell to Bel Air, 2-0, in the state semifinal game, but with the loss lingering throughout the offseason, the Gators entered the fall with high aspirations of joining the state-title conversation once again.

"At first we didn't think we would actually be good. We thought it was going to be just another season … and then we realized that, 'Wow, we're actually pretty good,' and we went pretty far," Toler said of the Gators' 2015 team. "We knew at the beginning of the season junior year we didn't win a lot, but senior year I wasn't too concerned about winning in the beginning of the season because I was like, 'It's OK, we can always work on things.' We just took it one game at a time and whatever happens, happens."

Although Reservoir failed to repeat as regional champions, it had several big wins throughout the season, including victories over eventual 2A state champion River Hill and 3A South regional champion Centennial. But Toler said what she is going to remember most about her varsity soccer career is the camaraderie she had with her teammates — most of whom she will see during the winter season as half the soccer roster is also on the Gators girls basketball squad.

"It is nice because we thought, 'Oh soccer season is over. We aren't going to be together,' which was the main thing everyone loved about soccer," Toler said. "We are all so close and we would have so much fun in practice and out of practice, and now that we see each other off the field it's like the same thing. It's still fun."


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