Girls soccer: Tyra King, DuPage County All-Area Captain
It's good to have Tyra King on your team.
Actually, it's really, really good since the Metea Valley senior led the Mustangs to a 19-1-3 season which included their second straight DuPage Valley Conference title, ninth consecutive regional championship and a victory in the sectional semifinals.
King scored a career-best 23 goals, easily leading her team in scoring, while tying for second on the team with 8 assists. She shared Golden Boot honors in the DVC with Naperville Central senior Megan Norkett to help the Mustangs to a perfect 5-0 record.
In addition to other accolades including being named all-conference and all-state, King has been named the Captain of the Daily Herald's DuPage All-Area girls soccer team.
"She is one of those kids who I think with each year gets more and more comfortable with the team and comfortable with the coaches and teammates," Mustangs coach Chris Whaley said. "Everybody is always looking to her do something special and each year she got more and more confident, and this year, especially when Jordan (Lange) went out (with an injury), you could see her step up her game even more."
One way she did that was by looking for additional ways to finish.
"I took more shorts from outside the box this year," she said. "I got a lot of goals by doing that."
King, who had 20 goals and 4 assists during last year's state championship run, also took on added leadership responsibilities despite being more of a quiet kid.
"As a senior I made sure to grow relationships with all of this kids, especially the underclassmen," she said. "I wanted to make sure everyone felt included and hype them up. That was kind of a new thing for me."
Whaley has had the pleasure of not only coaching King, but teaching her as well.
"She is a lot of fun and became one of the more funny and enjoyable kids to be around because she became a kind of hype man for the team, especially when we got towards the end of the season and you've got to ready to go and lead in that way."
Select players are blessed with the combination of skills that King possesses, including size, speed and strength and she used it time and time again.
"Physically she's such a hard player to defend," Whaley said. "She's fast, she's strong and she always wants the ball. She works all the way back into the midfield to go win the ball and the next thing you know she's in front of the goal. So it's hard for a defender to keep up and you can see why teams later on would try to take her out of plays in the midfield because in the final third she's super dangerous."
Teams often tried to turn King around and limit her looks to attack, and while they succeeded at times, King never stopped battling.
"Some better teams had a plan for her, you know, to try to take her out of the play as early as possible," Whaley said. "But she just keeps working."
Not one to shy away from challenges, King reigned supreme in the toughest moments in the toughest games. She delivered the game-winning PK against Naperville Central to finish off a perfect run through the DVC. She scored and had two assists in a win over Hinsdale Central to complete the first undefeated regular season in school history.
She quickly netted the go-ahead goal to thwart Lockport's rally in a sectional semifinal and then added her fourth goal of the game as insurance.
"I don't know if this makes sense, but I perform better under pressure," she said. "I'm very hard on myself and I pushed myself to be the best so when I'm under pressure I perform better and turn it on."
King had to perform this season in Aurora without her older sister Justyce on the field since she graduated and is now playing at Lincoln University.
"We're very close so playing without her was very hard," she said. "She was a big part of our defense so it hurt us to lose her. We gave up some goals but we held our ground."
King will take her talents to DeKalb this fall and begin the next stage of her playing career for the Huskies. While she's thrilled for her next challenge, she's not likely to forget what she and the Mustangs have been able to do the last few seasons. She also could never have imagined for it to turn out so well.
"I didn't think high school soccer would be like this," she said. "I started freshman year here because I thought it would be fun. I'm going to miss the bond with all of the girls. I had a tight bond and that helped a lot."