By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG -- Taylor Koontz is no stranger to scoring goals. Over the course of her three years at Stonewall Jackson, she has scored plenty for her team. However, this season she wanted to add another element to her game -- she wanted to get more assists.
Koontz succeeded in that goal by finishing the year with nine assists for the Generals.
As much as she loves scoring, the junior said getting an assist is even better.
"I think I get more happy about an assist than a goal," Koontz said. "It just feels awesome to help somebody else score, because most people do like getting the goal more. It's just good knowing that I'm getting somebody a goal, and to be a part of that connecting thing that got us up in the game is just a good feeling."
Koontz, the Northern Virginia Daily's 2012 Girls Soccer Player of the Year, started out the season mostly at forward, but then moved to midfield, where she said she prefers it. Playing at midfield also helped her get more assists.
While she had plenty of assists, Koontz still scored a lot for the Generals. She led the team with 12 goals.
Her quickness and understanding of the game help give her an edge out on the pitch. Koontz also took on an even bigger leadership role with the team this season.
Stonewall Jackson coach Chris Livesay said he had a talk with Koontz at the beginning of the year, and told her he wanted her to be more of a leader.
"I told her this could be her year," Livesay said. "She needed to step up. She needed to be more vocal. She needed to take the team and just kind of push them -- because with her energy, she never quits. She never backs down. She could push the team forward, and I told her that's what I wanted her to try to do was to push the team forward."
Livesay said Koontz began to understand the game better this season, and her knowledge out on the pitch helped make the rest of the team better.
Soccer has been a sport that has been part of Koontz's family for years. Her older brother Colton and older sister Brittany both played at Stonewall Jackson. Her twin sister Michaela is also on the team, and is a defender.
"We've always been around soccer," Koontz said. "I think it's why we me and Michaela are so into it right now, because it's always been a part of our life."
Taylor said being able to play on the same team as Michaela is also very special.
"She understands the game just like I do, but at the same time she'll tell me when I mess up," Taylor Koontz said. "And she won't have any mercy about it, and I'll do the same to her. And it's just nice to have that person to tell you when you're not doing good, no matter what, and not try to hurt your feelings."
Koontz used to watch her older siblings play for the Generals and said it was a special feeling when she finally got to play.
"When I was little, I couldn't wait until I came here," Koontz said. "I remember my first game playing on the field I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is so crazy. I'm finally on the field. I'm finally out here playing a high school game.' I was so excited. It's something I had been waiting on forever."
Koontz also plays volleyball and is on the swim team at Stonewall Jackson, but said even when she's playing another sport she'd rather be playing soccer.
Koontz was one of four players who started for Stonewall Jackson as freshmen. Before that season the program had struggled, but began to turn the corner that year.
"We did a lot better than people thought we would," Koontz said. "That was when the team really started to grow and surprise other teams. That was a really fun year, because we shocked everybody."
The Generals have continued to get better as a program, and this season finished third in the Shenandoah District. They finished 7-7-1. They played the top two teams in the district, Stuarts Draft and Wilson Memorial, very tough. In the Shenandoah District tournament semifinals, with a regional berth at stake, they lost to Wilson Memorial, 1-0.
With many of the players returning next year, Koontz said she is very excited to see what they can do as a team.
"I'm excited to see if we can come back as strong as the last game we played against Wilson," Koontz said, "because I really think we have a chance at advancing to regionals next year. I'm really excited about next year. It's my senior year -- I want to go hard."