The smile Danica Hurley wears most of the time when she’s away from the court or playing field belies the competitor within. And at 5-foot-4, 115 pounds, she’s not physically intimidating.

When the Richmond High School senior steps between the lines, though, she’s a different person.

“Watching her in middle school she had the tools to be a pretty special player,” Richmond soccer coach Troy Kendrick said. “I think the thing that sets her apart is she’s one of the most intense competitors I’ve ever coached.”

Kendrick just completed his 23rd season as girls soccer coach for the Bobcats and, along the way, his teams have won eight state championships. Two of those have come in the last two seasons when Hurley has led the way.

“Going into the playoffs I felt pretty good,” Kendrick said. “I told (assistant) Ryan Gardner ‘Danica’s not going to let us lose.’ “

Hurley scored a pair of goals in a 4-1 win against Van Buren in the Class D state championship, raising her season total to 38 and her career mark to 104.

For her efforts, she’s been selected Kennebec Journal Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Hall-Dale senior Carylanne Wolfington and Richmond junior Sadie Gosse were also considered.

The day after the state championship, Hurley began playing for her travel soccer team. She’s also the point guard on the basketball team and the softball team’s shortstop, but soccer is her passion.

“Just thinking about playing soccer with my school team being over makes me sad,” Hurley said. “I love my teammates, I love Mr. Kendrick and I love winning.”

Losing to Greenville in the playoffs her sophomore season was enough to spur Hurley and her teammates to a pair of state titles.

“That’s been my motivation for the past two years,” she said.

But really just seeing a loose ball on the field is motivation in itself.

“I hate losing,” Hurley said. “I hate getting beat to any ball. I feel the need to beat the person next to me.”

Hurley has above average speed and skill and used both to her advantage. She also has a high soccer IQ which Kendrick said helped her understand when she should shoot and when she should pass. This season Hurley recorded 12 assists as well as a number of good passes that didn’t result in goals. And she’s just as dedicated to the game in and out of season.

“She never missed a game or a practice in four years,” Kendrick said. “She was always a good listener and no matter what we are doing for drills, she’d always go 100 percent. It was really good role modeling.”

Hurley was voted a team captain and Kendrick said her teammates listened to what she had to say because “they knew she wanted to win.”

Hurley said she’s grown into her speed the past couple of seasons and credits some of the individual skill she learned in the off-season for that. But there’s nothing like playing in front of your hometown fans.

“Playing in Richmond is great,” she said. “Everybody knows who you are. When you succeed they make it a really big deal.”

Hurley, who still has a basketball and softball season ahead of her, plans to major in nursing and play soccer in college. She has met with University of Maine soccer coach Scott Atherley and intends to play for the Black Bears next fall although she has yet to sign a letter of intent.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

 


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