Jordan Jabar admits she wasn’t sure what to expect this season, even on a team that had had lost only one regular season game over the previous two years.

And when Jabar was asked by new head coach Mark Serdjenian to move from center midfield to center back, the Waterville Senior High School senior admitted to having reservations. Turns out, Serdjenian knew what he was doing with Jabar.

Jabar anchored a defensive unit that allowed only two goals during the entire regular season, and for that effort she has been chosen as the Morning Sentinel Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Teammate Sophie Webb and Madison’s Madeline Wood were also considered.

“When (Serdjenian) was telling me, you’re going to play center defense, I was a little bummed,” Jabar, a two-year captain for Waterville, said. “But the way he explained it to me, he asked, ‘Do you want to have a 14-0 season or a 4-10 season?’ That really hit hard with me and a lot of the players. Sometimes you have to sacrifice what you want for what’s best for the team. If everybody does that, ultimately, it should lead you to victory.”

It certainly did.

Waterville went 14-0-0 during the regular season and rolled its way to the Class B North regional championship. In the regional final against Hermon and in the state final against Yarmouth — despite a 3-1 loss there — Jabar turned in two of her most complete performances of the entire season.

“She definitely proved her mettle in our two most challenging games of the season, versus Hermon and Yarmouth,” Serdjenian said. “That’s when her speed, composure and ability to beat people were most evident.”

Jabar played all of her junior season and some of her sophomore season in the midfield, though she did begin her varsity career playing on the back line. That experience, she believes, helped her make a quicker adjustment to center back. Her footskills and confidence on the ball, too, added elements to her game not often seen in high school center backs.

“I loved that position (center midfield). You’re always passing, making plays and in the middle of everything,” Jabar said. “But in the back, you really have to step up and be a leader. You have to control the field, control the other players, and that was the biggest change for me. I think I did well in it.”

For Serdjenian, he said the decision to move Jabar out of her comfort zone was an easy one, though the player herself said it took her a few games to feel at home.

“I believe that defenders need to be some of our most skilled players, and Jordan showed why that is true,” Serdjenian said. “She was a rock all fall. As one opposing parent declared during a game, ‘Take No. 8 out and give us a chance.'”

The postseason awards piled up for Jabar. She was named the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Player of the Year in Class B, and recognition she wasn’t expecting. She pointed to both Webb and Anika Elias, two Purple Panther teammates who scored more than 25 goals each this season.

On a Waterville team that sometimes wasn’t pushed to its limit — averaging more than five goals per game — it was easy to overlook the role Jabar played. While goals are nice, coaches are always quicker to point out how few goals their teams have allowed.

“It’s funny, because it wasn’t a position that I wanted. I wanted to be a center midfielder,” Jabar said. “But I think what we’ve shown is that we have really, really mentally tough players. We may get little recognition for what we do (in the back), but whenever we did get challenged we were able to step up.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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