All-Area girls soccer

A solid season made Mountain View’s Megan Watts a two-time Free Lance-Star All-Area girls soccer player of the year.

The two components that have made Megan Watts a star forward for Mountain View’s soccer team were on display at the end of the Commonwealth District championship game last month.

The Wildcats were tied at 1 with Massaponax with a minute to play before the match would have to be decided by penalty kicks.

Watts noted Mountain View had an inexperienced goalkeeper and an unsettled PK lineup, so she had no desire for the extra session.

That’s why the junior dribbled through the entire Panthers’ defense from midfield and knocked home the game-winner, propelling Mountain View to a 2–1 victory.

“I think it’s a combination of speed and technical ability,” Mountain View head coach Fernando Ramos said of what has separated Watts from her counterparts. “Not many players have both. I probably compare her to Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Ramos may have been engaging in hyperbole, but Watts has thrilled the Wildcats and their fans the past two seasons. She’s scored 63 goals in two years, including 30 this past season to earn back-to-back Free Lance–Star player of the year honors.

Watts added 10 assists in 2018 as the first-time co-captain helped lead Mountain View to a second straight appearance in the state tournament.

Watts said while her speed is “a natural thing” that she’s always possessed, several coaches have developed her into a stronger technician along the way.

“I’ve had outside trainers and Ramos has helped with that, too,” Watts said. “He would spend extra time with me on the field to do some tactical things. So I would give a lot of credit to him. I guess as I’ve gotten older it’s all kind of fallen into place.”

Ramos said the next step for Watts and Mountain View’s program is to win a state championship. The Wildcats lost to Albemarle in the Group 5A title game in 2017. This past season, they fell to Briar Woods in the Class 5 quarterfinals.

Ramos said the Wildcats will reevaluate their approach to offseason conditioning as the coaching staff will try to figure out what it needs to do to get the program over the hump. He said it’s not all on Watts’s shoulders’, but it undoubtedly starts with her.

“I think next year it’s going to be all-in with Megan and balancing scoring goals with figuring out a way to win a state title,” Ramos said. “I think she’s going to have to balance the two.”

Watts orally committed to Old Dominion University earlier this year. She’s played for the Braddock Road travel soccer team this summer and recently traveled to Seattle where her team went 2–1 and advanced to the national semifinals.

Watts said experiences like that will help her develop. She’s also hopeful that her youthful teammates are spending this summer playing in travel leagues.

“Our team was really young,” Watts said. “We had mostly sophomores and freshmen. I think we just need more experience throughout the year. Once they play more travel [league games] and get into their second and third high school seasons next year, that will help our team a lot.”

With so much youth surrounding her, Watts stepped up as a leader on and off the field. The Wildcats no longer had standouts like Jensen Margheim and Olivia Bolton, who graduated from the 2017 state finalist.

So in addition to being a reliable goal scorer, Watts had to provide an emotional spark, as well. Ramos said he’s going to continue to push Watts in all aspects of her game as she sprints toward a bright future.

“She definitely improved. She got faster and more confident,” Ramos said. “So my challenge to her individually is not only the high school level, but ‘What are you going to do to develop yourself for ODU at the same time?’”

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Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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