Erskine Academy senior Bridget Humphrey is such a strong all-around athlete that coach Ryan Nored figured the team’s playoff loss last month might be the last soccer game she ever played.
“She’s just a pure athlete,” Nored said. “She’s focusing on basketball then track. I think her sport is going to be track.”
Humphrey has other ideas, though, especially after the banner season she turned in for the Eagles on the soccer field.
“It’s my favorite sport by far,” she said. “I’m not really sure where I want to go to school yet, but I would like to play soccer wherever I go.”
The eight goals and three assists Humphrey recorded this season don’t begin to explain her value to the team. Nored moved her from striker to stopper this season and it paid off as the Eagles recorded 10 victories, including a upset of unbeaten Brunswick in the playoffs.
For her efforts, Humphrey has been selected Kennebec Journal Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Gardiner’s Ally Day, Monmouth’s Kylie Kemp and Richmond’s Sadie Gosse were also considered.
Nored decided to move Humphrey to stopper for a couple of reasons. First, she was getting double-teamed as a striker her junior year, and second, to take advantage of her field vision and passing ability. The Eagles played a diamond defense and Humphrey warmed to her new position once she saw it was working.
“I got to control the ball and see the field more,” she said. “It was a lot different than past years. The main part was being more involved.”
The 5-foot-10, 140-pound Humphrey was not only usually the strongest player on the field but often one of the fastest. Both her parents were athletes along with her older brother Jory who is a baseball player at the University of Maine at Farmington. Humphrey is a three-year starter for the basketball team and qualified for the New England track and field championship last spring in the discus and high jump. She also runs hurdles.
“I grew up as a little tomboy and always played sports,” Humphrey said.
Although Humphrey didn’t play soccer for a premiere team in the offseason, she developed excellent ballhandling and shooting skills. She converted a pair of long free kicks this season for the Eagles after a wink and a nod to Nored. Both kicks were from 45-50 yards out and were originally designed to set up teammates. Humphrey, though, had the option to shoot.
“I call it a chip play,” Nored said. “Her job was to kick it over the defense. She looked over and gave me our signal to shoot.”
Humphrey scored on both shots, leading to a 1-0 win against Brewer and a tie against Brunswick that would eventually turn into a win in penalty kicks.
“He would usually tell me it was up to me what I wanted to do,” Humphrey said. “I can kick it pretty far.”
Nored said Humphrey’s mental growth spurt this season was her greatest improvement.
“Things come so easily athletically she didn’t really have to try,” he said. “This year she decided to try, she started working at it.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638