Yukon senior Abby Love may not play the most glamorous position on the Yukon girls soccer team, but the defender is well respected by her coaches and teammates.
“She is our leader in the back,” Yukon coach Steve Scott said. “She has led a defense that allowed just 1.08 goals per match through the first 11 games and she has logged 1,200 minutes this season. She is a huge part of our success this year.”
That success has manifested itself into the Millerettes carrying a 10-2 overall record through their first 12 matches.
Love says she knows defense isn’t the most popular aspect of the game, but knows its importance.
“I believe defense is one of the most important parts of the game,” Love said. “Without a good defense, it’s very difficult to win. It keeps the team together in many ways. We all help with the attack on offense but no matter what happens with our offense, the defense always has its back. It’s my favorite part of the game.”
Typically, when an opponent is on the attack, it’s not a positive thing in soccer. However, Love said when she sees the ball coming in her direction she gets excited because it’s her time to step up.
“That’s when I get the most excited,” Love said. “Finally, I get to do something and help my team. The adrenaline starts pumping and I realize it’s my time to shine.”
One of the most underrated aspects of soccer is the physicality in the sport. Love said when she got to high school she began to fully understand that being physical on defense was a must.
“I believe we have one of the best defenses in the state,” Love said. “I believe that because we are physical defense. That is the most exciting part of playing defense. People don’t think soccer is physical but throughout the entire season, I am covered in bruises. You have to let people know that you are there.”
Love said she began playing soccer when she was four years old. She said she played other sports as well but soccer was always her number one love.
She played in a Yukon rec league with her friends from school and was coached by her mom but made the jump to the competitive soccer world when she was 11 with the Canadian Valley Futbol Club, which is now known as Energy West.
She has played defense her whole life but said she didn’t really become a physical player until she got to high school.
“I didn’t realize how physical I needed to be until I got into high school,” Love said. “It sunk in right away that you had to be a physical defender if you were going to have success.”
Love is a Yukon Public Schools lifer. She went to elementary school at Skyview Elementary and when she graduates from Yukon High School in May, she is planning to take her academic talents to Southwestern Oklahoma University in Weatherford.
“I want to go into health science and study to be a physical therapist,” Love said. “That will be my main focus in college. I don’t plan on playing soccer after high school.”
Yukon is in the middle of a stellar season and with every win, the expectations are getting higher for the Millerettes.
Love said the girls are embracing those expectations and enjoying the journey together.
“It has been an awesome season,” Love said. “We are giving it all we got every day. We have really good chemistry as a team this year. Our goal is to clinch home-field matches in the playoffs and to win the rest of our games and win our district.”
Love and the Yukon girls soccer team will be back in action at 6 p.m. Tuesday when they host U.S. Grant at Miller Stadium.