By Jim Sullivan
---- — AMESBURY — Amanda Martin knew she was in for a tough season when it began. The Amesbury girls soccer captain just didn’t know how tough.
“She’s in pretty much every play,” said Amesbury coach Cathy Berry. “Everything has to run through her, offensively. She has the best foot skills out there, offensively. She is the fastest on the team. She covers the most ground. But the biggest thing is, since we’re young, she reacts quicker than most of the girls. So it seems like she’s always there.”
The junior co-captain has had to be there for the Indians, a lot. After losing eight seniors from last year’s team that went 16-0-1 in the regular season, Martin and fellow junior co-captain defender Kelly DiFazio are currently the only returning starters on the pitch after junior center-mid Madison McClean went down with an injury during the first game. Berry needed someone to step up. Martin was nominated.
“I was a little bit nervous at first,” said Martin, who went into the season expecting to play outside-mid. “The center-mid kind of controls the whole game, but I’ve kind of gotten used to it because I get a lot of touches on the ball in the middle of the field, so it kind of works out.”
It’s worked out well enough, with Martin tallying eight goals and two assists so far.
“I’m starting to like it a little bit more,” Martin said of center-mid. “I do get more touches on the ball, and I’m getting more used to it.”
It helps that McClean has been there on the sidelines, giving pointers. Berry said that it’s Martin’s demeanor that has kept things going as the Indians have battled their way through a 4-8-1 season so far.
“She knows we’re young, she knows we’re rebuilding,” said Barry. “She’s carrying a lot of the weight, but you’d never know it. Her actions speak louder than her words, but she is very positive. She is always upbeat. She never gets down. She never quits. We’ve had some tough games and she is the one who comes off the field and says, ‘Come on, girls. Let’s stick with this, one goal at a time. We can do this, don’t give up.’ She’s that player.”
Berry also said a big key to the Indians’ growth has been having the defender, DiFazio, there to complement Martin in the back of the field.
“Kelly has to take charge of the defense while Amanda has got the rest of the field,” said Berry. “Even though our record is what it is this year, we’ve been in some close games, and it’s definitely because of Amanda and Kelly.”
“We can kind of lean on each other and help each other out,” Martin said. “But it’s definitely a lot of pressure. We’re both captains this year so we kind of knew what was coming. But we really didn’t realize it was going to be quite like this.”
As the current season heads down the stretch, Martin knows, barring any superstar freshmen center-midfielders materializing out of thin air, she may very well find herself holding down the fort at center in her senior season as well. If that’s the case, Berry said she will be confident in what Martin will bring to the table.
“She wasn’t the offensive threat last year, but she didn’t need to be,” said Berry. “She only had to be the setup person last year. So she never had to be in that role of leader last year. She’s definitely stepped up. She plays 80 minutes, she doesn’t come out. We’re not winning a lot of 50/50 balls, but she’s right there to pick up the pieces.”