Opponents would see the diminutive midfielder controlling play at both ends and figure they could knock her off her game with a little pushing and shoving. There was a time, however briefly, when they were right.

Avery Bond would make them regret it soon enough.

Bond had reason to consider self-preservation first in the face of such physical play this season while watching teammate after teammate go down with long-term or season-ending injuries. Instead, she welcomed the attention, especially if it would make her teammates’ jobs easier.

“I think she expected it and sort of grew to be okay with it, even using their physicality against them,” Nored said.

It was the combination of skill, savvy, toughness and leadership that made Bond one of the top players in the state, and made her the Kennebec Journal Player of the Year.

Opponents sized up Bond’s impressive soccer skills a while ago and devoted their game plans to trying to stop her. As a junior, the defensive attention sometimes frustrated her.

They couldn’t count on that this season. As an example, Nored cited a midseason tie at Lincoln Academy this year in which the home team looked at how short-handed the Eagles were and decided to try to make anyone but Bond beat them.

For the first time, Bond was double-marked. She recognized the defense quickly and switched with a teammate so that she could draw Lincoln’s attention away from the middle of the field.

“I just decided maybe I should pull myself out of the middle,” she said. “I went and stood in the corner for a while and waited for things to open up in the middle for everyone else.”

“It took me a couple of minutes to realize that she had done it. She made adjustments faster than I did and made the right adjustments,” Nored said. “It makes me proud that I’m her coach.”

Opposing coaches were similarly impressed, voting Bond the KVAC Coastal Division’s player of the year even though her numbers (eight goals, five assists), while very respectable, were dwarfed by others.

Nored was glad they took notice, and believes the effort Bond put in this year will continue to resonate long after she graduates.

“She makes players better around her,” Nored said. “One of the positives to come out of they injuries was all of the players who got a chance to get better. Having someone like Avery around, having your best player also have the best attitude on the team, it only helps us for the next three years.”

Erskine went into the season hoping to compete for the Coastal Division championship, but the injuries sidetracked that mission and turned the season more into a lesson in perseverance and dealing with adversity. Bond looked at the constantly changing faces around her and, rather than lament the opportunities lost, saw an opportunity to better herself and help them improve.

“It definitely made me feel like I had to take more responsibility,” she said. “We had multiple people that could fill those roles. It wasn’t too much of a difference. You just adapt to the players. I saw it as a challenge.”

“I couldn’t have really asked for a better season with better teammates. We all meshed perfectly,” she said. “On the field, I learned a lot more skills in communication and leadership. Off the field, I’ve made some great friendships and it was, overall, a great experience.”

Randy Whitehouse —621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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