EVANSVILLE – Jeremy Wolfe warned everyone this summer.
High school girls’ soccer coach Reitz has told anyone who listens to him that they will witness a different version of a certain player this fall. Both out of necessity for the team – one with great aspirations and great talent – and on a personal level.
He was referring to star striker Naomi Splittorff. In reality, she had nothing to prove to anyone. She has shown her talents since her first year. But she wanted to prove to herself that she could bear the blame.
Not just as a playmaker, but as a leader.
The senior Reitz was indeed the player everyone knew she could be. One of the best athletes in the state. She did everything the Panthers needed of her this fall and more. The program is in a stronger position because of it.
Splittorff is Courier & Press Metro Player of the Year.
“You’re not going to find a better kid,” Wolfe said. “Everyone admired and loved him. I have never heard anyone say anything negative about them. That’s what she meant for the program.
Splittorff has always been one of the best players in Southern Indiana. But this year the Panthers needed more. Macy Broshears had graduated and went on to one of the best careers in the history of the program.
All the attention of the opposing defenses would turn to Splittorff. Every minute of every game. The Purdue rookie understood there couldn’t be any wasted moments.
Splittorff has scored 27 goals and had 12 assists this fall. She always had speed and technical ability. But this season was different. If there were any skeptics left, they were silenced.
“I really stepped out of my comfort zone,” Splittorff said. “I realized that if we got far someone would have to step in. I took it upon myself that I could be that person. I was a senior and a captain. What am I going to lose by talking a little more?
What we asked of him could weigh down even the strongest. Opponents have chosen to mark her all over the field. Several defenders pulled the cession. If she got frustrated, would you blame her?
Splittorff constantly reminded himself that this weight was not for one person. The beauty of football comes from a team that works together. She knew her other attackers and the midfielders were supportive of her. Reitz has won 11 games and consistently placed in the top 10 in Class 3A.
Everyone still knew who had run the engine. Splittorff was voted Coach of the Year in All Cities. She was one of eight Indiana players to unanimously win the first team all-star. The forward impressed in All-District games last weekend.
“Coach Carmel and others said he could have been the second best player in Indiana state,” Wolfe said. “That’s how she played well on Saturday. She couldn’t pull off the plays (this season) and had to work the entire 80 minutes. For the most part, she did this every game.
The only element missing from his career was a championship: conference, city or section. This was due in large part to the overall strength of the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference and Evansville football. If Reitz beat Castle on penalties in the section, the Panthers could very well have competed for the semi-state.
These shortcomings were due to a lack of effort or will from Splittorff. Here’s where it stands in the history of the program: second for goals and first for assists. The Panthers have won 43 games in his career. She will now graduate earlier to join Purdue in January.
There have been several talented people playing on the West Side. Splittorff has proven this season that she belongs in that conversation, even though she hates comparing herself to others.
“This program will be a part of me forever,” Splittorff said. “Not just this year because of our good season, but the friendships and memories with the teammates. It was really good for me not only as a player but as a person (to play here).
Memorial’s Angie Lensing is Metro Coach of the Year. There were several deserves including Wolfe or Doug Diedrich of Castle. But the Tigers remained the Evansville class with a perfect SIAC record and a Class 2A state championship.
Lensing moved the pieces with versatile lineup and made Memorial play its best playoff football. It was the fourth IHSAA state title for Lensing as a head coach.
Follow Courier & Press sports reporter Kyle Sokeland on Twitter @kylesokeland.
Courier & Press All-Metro Women’s Football Team
Name, school, year, position
Matea Bradfield, Reitz, First year, Forward
Jacqueline Brasseale, Memorial, Senior, Forward
Jordan Coon, Castle, Senior, Forward
Tess Freeman, Mater Dei, Junior, Forward
Taylor Johnson, Reitz, Junior, Forward
Aleyna Quinn, Castle, Second year, Before
Naomi Splittorff, Reitz, Senior, Forward
Damaged Zeller, Memorial, Junior, Forward
Emma Boarman, Mater Dei, Senior, Midfielder
Este Bonnell, Mater Dei, Junior, Midfielder
Ella Hamner, Memorial, Junior, Midfielder
Emmy Higgins, Castle, Junior, Midfielder
Kennedy Neighbors, Memorial, Junior, Midfielder
Kaylee Woosley, North, Senior, Midfielder
Macy Happe, North, Senior, Defender
Emily Mattingly, Memorial, Junior, Advocate
Poppy Perkins, Memorial, Senior, Advocate
Abby Rhoutsong, Castle, Senior, Defender
Zoe Szabo, North, Junior, Goalkeeper
Kyrsten Seale, Reitz, Senior, Goalkeeper
Player of the year: Naomi Splittorff, Reitz
Coach of the year: Angie Lensing, Memorial
This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: High school football: Senior Reitz named All-Metro Player of the Year