Collinsville High’s Emily Holten prefers to let her actions do the talking.
Holten is a humble sort who doesn’t seek the kind of attention that comes with being the Belleville News-Democrat’s Player of the Year in high school girls soccer.
Make no mistake. Holten appreciates the honor, which is determined in voting by metro-east coaches. But she finds it easier to not talk about it.
I’m very excited. It’s a great accomplishment. I didn’t expect this at all, honestly.
Collinsville junior Emily Holten on winning the Belleville News-Democrat’s Player of the Year in girls soccer
“I’m very excited. It’s a great accomplishment,” said Holten, a junior forward whose 24 goals and 16 assists led the Kahoks (22-2-2) to second place in the Class 3A state tournament in Naperville. “I didn’t expect this at all, honestly. It’s been a great year.”
Holten, a University of Mississippi recruit, said breaking out of her shell is among her early objectives for 2017, when as a senior she will try to lead Collinsville to a state title.
“Communicating more on the field and being louder. I can always improve on that,” Holten said of her goals for next spring. “I should probably work on (talking to media) a little bit. But no, no more videos.”
A Collinsville player has won the News-Democrat’s Player of the Year award in four of the last five seasons. Kat Roe won in 2012 and 2013, preceding Sophia Sharos in 2015.
Clay Smith, who just completed his sixth year as Collinsville’s coach, was recognized as the News-Democrat’s Coach of the Year in voting by his colleagues. Over the weekend, Smith also received the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association Coach of the Year award.
Holten’s Player of the Year award caps off a flurry of honors she has recently received, including all-sectional, all-state and all-Southwestern Conference.
“It’s great for her,” Smith said. “Emily didn’t get a state award last year due to numbers. She kind of got snubbed, in my opinion. So I think this is a great turnaround with the year that she’s had. She had a phenomenal year, not only scoring goals, but just doing some of the little things, too, like being the team captain and helping everybody out.”
Holten was an immediate varsity contributor in 2014, when as a freshman she was Collinsville’s second-leading scorer with 12 goals and eight assists. As a sophomore last season, she was even better with 14 goals and 13 assists as the Kahoks placed fourth at state.
This year, Holten was the ringleader of a dynamic offense that also included junior forward Tayler Devine (17 goals, six assists) and junior midfielders Alynnah O’Leary (12 goals, seven assists) and Andrea Frerker (seven goals, 11 assists). Frerker, Collinsville’s co-captain along with Holten, also was an all-state selection.
Three other Kahoks had at least five goals, and senior defender Chayse Richardson was credited with 10 assists, many of them coming on flip throws.
“I had more confidence this year and I had more people up top to help me out,” Holten said. “It was the same team (as 2015), pretty much, except that we had Tayler helping me out, too. I loved her being on the field with me. I rely on her a bunch.
“And Andrea’s foot skills are just amazing. Whenever I make runs, I know she’ll get it to me. She’s great at playing balls through and finding people up top.”
Holten also said he benefited by playing with more composure, a byproduct of experience.
“I just got more settled down because I was a junior and I had been through it,” she said. “It’s going to feel great to be a senior, but I want to go to state again because it’s my last year. I’ll keep shooting and try to score a bunch of goals for the team.”
Smith said Holten’s strength helped her overcome the defensive attention she received.
“She’s gotten so much stronger,” he said. “She’s done a great job of doing work by herself in the gym. It really paid off this year because she was getting man-marked a lot. Any time we were playing an opposing team, she was the player they were talking about in the locker room – her and Frerker.
“Teams did a great job of man-marking (Holten) or even double-marking her, and she just fights through it and finds a way.”
Still feeling good
Collinsville desperately wanted to bring home the state-championship trophy, and was in the running for it until it fell to New Trier 4-0 in the title game on June 4.
The second-place finish was the highest-ever for the Kahoks.
“It still feels awesome,” Holten said. “It’s a week later, but we’re still really excited that we got that far.”
Holten put Collinsville in position to win by scoring a goal in the second overtime to lift it past Glenbard East 2-1. Holten got possession in the box, cut the ball back and scored inside the right post. The Kahoks’ defense preserved the lead for the final seven-plus minutes.
“That goal I scored was probably the best feeling ever,” Holten said. “We had all of our friends and family there watching, and to get to the championship game – something we’ve never done before –was an awesome feeling.
“I had shots early in the game, but they went way over. I just had to keep shooting and not stop. Finally, one went in for me. I just had to calm down. It was the end of the game. I was getting too nervous and (shots) were going everywhere. I just settled down and it worked out.”
Smith believes Holten’s versatility on the field will immediately lend itself to playing time at Mississippi. Smith, who used Holten on defense in one game this season, can see her playing wingback or midfielder for the Rebels, members of the Southeastern Conference.
“She can play almost anywhere,” Smith said. “When she moves on to the next level and goes to Ole Miss, she could almost be an outside back or outside mid. That’s how athletic she is. I think she’s going to get better. When she gets just as dynamic with her left foot as she is with her right foot, she’s going to be a handful in her senior year and then moving on to that bigger conference with Ole Miss.”
Holten is eager for college, but said she’s still in “high-school mode” for the time being.
“I’m really, really excited for college,” she said. “To be playing high-level soccer, making new friends and having a new experience, I’m excited for that.”
2016 Belleville News-Democrat
All-Area Girls Soccer Team
Player of the Year
Emily Holten, Collinsville, jr.
Coach of the Year
Clay Smith, Collinsville
Abigail Crabtree, Edwardsville, jr.
Grace Brauer, Belleville East, so.
Erika Lloyd, Waterloo, sr.
Lexi Grote, Granite City, jr.
Brianna Hatfield, Alton, so.
Meaghan Smith, Triad, jr.
Taylor Mathenia, Belleville West, so.
Andrea Frerker, Collinsville, jr.
Tayler Devine, Collinsville, jr.
Emilie Blomenkamp, Freeburg, sr.
GK: Julie Scheiter, Collinsville, sr.
Shannon Maitland, Althoff, sr.
Abby Hasenstab, Gibault, sr.
Grace Niedhardt, Granite City, jr.
Alynnah O’Leary, Collinsville, jr.
Sydney Luedeman, Waterloo, so.
Blair Wittenbrink, Columbia, jr.
Ashlin West, Edwardsville, jr.
Jane Ann Crabtree, Edwardsville, sr.
Morgan Bohnenstiehl, Triad, jr.
(tie): Kacie Kinnikin, Belleville West, jr.
(tie): Anna Hanger, Althoff, sr.
GK: Bailey Bosler, Waterloo, so.
(Players listed in alphabetical order)
Jamie Adams, Belleville West; Jessica Albers, Central; Sam Bassler; Sierra Berg, Waterloo; Megan Bowman, Edwardsville; Lilly Brauer, Belleville East; Annie Brown, Belleville East; Tamia Cash, O’Fallon; Skye Clark, Triad (GK); Macey Endres, Mater Dei; Morgan Glaenzer, Columbia; Chloe Graff, Columbia; Mary Hagarty, Wesclin; Addison Hanusek, Belleville West; Fae Harrell, Columbia; Jessica Hoffman, Althoff; Madelyne Juenger, Columbia; Amanda Kaltwasser, Althoff; GK: Gabby Kayser, Triad (GK); Hannah Lehmann, Freeburg; Hanna Liljegren, Collinsville; Robyn Lindsey, Gibault; Dani Maurer, Waterloo; Dayle McEwen, Collinsville; Mallory Mushill, Edwardsville; Alaina Nasello, Alton; Carley Olson, Gibault; Emilia O’Neill, Althoff; Maddie O’Neill, Gibault; Abby Phelps, Gibault; Sydney Ratz, Waterloo; Chayse Richardson, Collinsville; Alison Riddle, Columbia (GK); Katie Rogers, Triad; Heather Schulte, Mater Dei; Sam Stutsman, O’Fallon; Nicole Swindle, Gibault; Molly Suess, Triad; Audrey Wilke, Highland; Regan Windau, Edwardsville (GK).
Past Players of the Year
2015: Sophia Sharos, Collinsville
2014: Quin Wilkes, O'Fallon
2013: Kat Roe, Collinsville
2012: Kat Roe, Collinsville
2011: Kelsey Dinges, Althoff, and Rachel Tejada, Triad
2010: Megan Pawloski, Althoff
2009: Megan Pawloski, Althoff (1A-2A); Kelli Segobiano, Belleville West (3A)
2008: Taylor Byrd, Columbia (Class A); Megan Pawloski, Althoff (Class AA)
2007: Tessa Gavilsky, Granite City
2006: Tasha Dittamore, Granite City
2005: Katya Hessel, Edwardsville
2004: Alaina Lacopo, Triad
2003: Jessie Bayne, Triad
2002: Jessie Bayne, Triad
2001: Jessie Bayne, Triad
2000: Erika Todd, Granite City
1999: Christen Seaman and Abbie Perez, Belleville East
1998: Tasha Siegel, Collinsville
1997: Michelle Montgomery, Granite City
1996: Connie Meyers, Granite City
1995: Beth Albrecht, O'Fallon