Tia Day may be best known as a basketball player at Monmouth Academy, but by the time she graduates in the spring, she will be remembered as one of the best soccer players in school history.

Day scored 39 goals this fall to set a single-season school record. For her efforts, the Monmouth senior striker is the Kennebec Journal Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

“She works really hard at things to make herself better, and when she makes herself better, she makes others better, too,” Monmouth coach Gary Trafton said of Day. “As a player, she’s very unselfish. She just goes out and does her job.”

Day is so unselfish, in fact, that she did not know how many goals she finished her season with, or where that number ranked all-time. “That’s the first time I heard that,” Day said when informed that she was the single-season record holder for the Mustangs. “It’s shocking to me.”

Yet, it shouldn’t be.

Day added 20 assists to her goal total for the 15-2-0 Mustangs, giving her a direct hand in 59 of the 117 goals the team scored this season. As if those numbers weren’t impressive enough, they came on the heels of a junior season in which she finished with 14 goals and had only 22 for her entire career to that point.

She does not play travel soccer in the offseason, focusing instead on her basketball game, where she was the point guard on Monmouth’s Class C state championship team last winter. All of the work Day puts in is either during the season, in the weight room or entirely on her own.

What Day does have, though, is the intangible quality often associated with “winning.”

“She’s a motivator,” Trafton said. “She knows what she needs to do, and she just goes out and does it. She’s athletic enough, but it came down to how bad did she want to be a really good player and stand out. She just put the time and effort into it.”

Day harbored no aspirations of a record-setting season during preseason training in the summer. But it was early September, when Monmouth opened with 29 goals in its first three games, she saw that things were changing.

“In the past, we had girls up at the forward spots who could score a lot,” Day said. “I wasn’t really depended on to score. I knew I’d have to step up and try to finish more goals this year. So I worked on just getting more into areas where I could shoot the ball. Having girls who can pass and get a lot of good crosses (through) was big. I was there to clean it up.”

In 12 of the team’s 17 games this season, Day registered multiple-goal efforts, seven times scoring three or more goals. She scored a single time in a pivotal regular-season meeting with Oak Hill — where Monmouth lost in overtime, its only regular-season defeat.

That game stood out to Day.

“I wasn’t exactly thrilled with how I played in that game,” Day said. “It opened my eyes to how I needed to play harder, finish my shots and the passes my teammates were giving me. I needed to work on finishing better. After that, I worked on my footskills even more, they were a bit messy. It was the fundamentals.”

Trafton knew then and there that it would turn into a special season for his senior wing player.

“I don’t see her turning it on and off like some talented kids do sometimes,” Trafton said. “She never takes a day off. If some kids aren’t shooting well or aren’t doing well, you can see it all over their face. You never see that with here.

“She’s always plugging along and doing her job.”

Day credits Trafton and his daughter, assistant coach Allie Trafton, with helping transform her from being a role player as a freshman and sophomore to being one of the most prolific scorers in school history.

“The skills, the game, the weightlifting, all of those things,” Day said. “When I was younger, I had an injury and (Gary) Trafton helped me get through that. The lessons on the field that I learned are lessons in life that will be with you forever.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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