FROSTBURG — You should never judge a book by its cover — Reagan Miller’s posture on the soccer field is a perfect example of that. Miller led a stout Mountain Ridge defense in 2019, and was rewarded for her efforts by being voted the Cumberland Times-News Girls Soccer Defensive Player of the Year by area head coaches.
Miller shares this year’s award with Southern’s Emily Pysell (see separate story), the first share of the defensive honor since 2007 when Mountain Ridge’s Jenna Delaney and Allegany’s Christina Russo split the award.
Miller and Pysell will receive their awards at the 72nd Dapper Dan Sports Award Banquet, which will be held Feb. 23, 4 p.m., at the Ali Ghan Shrine Club.
“At first glance, Reagan Miller is not a physically imposing player,” said Mountain Ridge head coach Gene Lescalette. “She is of average height, weighs just north of 100 pounds, and smiles from the time she wakes up until she goes to bed. But when the whistle blows and the ball is put into play, she transforms into a force to be reckoned with. She is a tenacious defender who takes it personally whenever an opponent happens to wander into our defending third of the field with the ball. Reagan’s play is a big reason for much of the success Mountain Ridge enjoyed this season.”
The Miners finished 11-5-2 and had seven shutouts. In addition, they held three other opponents to a single goal and, in nine games, held the opposition to four or less shots on goal.
They entered the Class 1A playoffs with a 6-0 win against Fort Hill, a 7-0 victory over Frankfort and a 6-1 win over Northern.
Mountain Ridge then opened the postseason with back-to-back shutouts in sectional play, claiming a 5-0 victory over Northern before shutting out Allegany 2-0 in the section title game, which Miller played a key role in.
“She’s a warrior,” Lescallette said of Miller following the win. “She has great instincts on when to step in and when to take off. She also will play the ball and get to the attack a little bit. She’s really matured as a player this year.”
The Miners’ season came to a close when they fell to Patterson Mill, 2-0, in the state quarterfinal.
“One of Reagan’s greatest strengths is her consistency. She always brings her ‘A’ game to the pitch and always plays at a high level,” said Lescalette. “She has great field vision and excellent anticipation, and her speed allows her to be in the right place at the right time. Her ability to read the game, to communicate with her fellow defenders and to keep everything organized in the back are invaluable to the team. She led the team in playing time by averaging over 80 minutes per game (two overtime games).”
Miller also contributed offensively, scoring a pair of goals, and she also excels in the classroom.
“Although Reagan is being recognized as one of the top soccer players in the area, her off-field accomplishments warrant mentioning as well,” said Lescalette. “By constantly working hard at training, she is a role model for the other players and the epitome of a true ‘team player.’ She excels in the classroom, sporting a 4.23 GPA, and she is ranked in the top 30 in her class. Having players of the caliber of Reagan is what makes coaching such a rewarding job.”
Miller is the sixth Mountain Ridge player to win the award and first since Trinity Washington won it in 2017. Miller returns next year to a Miners team that loses five players to graduation but keeps the defense and goalkeeper, Makayla Alexander, intact. The only Mountain Ridge player to win back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year honors was Quincy Hegeman in 2008 and 2009.
For Dapper Dan tickets, call the Sports Shoppe at 301-722-5490.
Kyle Bennett is a sports reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KyleBennettCTN.