Kaleigh Missimer did it all for Plymouth Whitemarsh during the 2020 season. The senior midfielder led the Colonials with 15 assists and finished second with 17 goals over the 13-game schedule. She was the primary offensive hitter and defensive flyer on corners and was responsible for advancing the ball from the defensive to offensive end.
For excelling in all aspects of the game and leading Plymouth Whitemarsh to a Suburban One League Liberty Division championship and District 1-3A finals appearance, Missimer is the Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media Player of the Year.
Missimer’s biggest moments came when she scored a pair of game-winning goals during the Colonials district playoff run.
The first came in the postseason opener, a 1-0 win over Avon Grove. Missimer’s fourth-quarter goal was one for the highlight reel – she stickhandled through defenders into the circle, cut left in front of the cage and lifted the ball back to the right.
“Coming into the season I think my name was pretty known but it wasn’t as well as (teammate) Ava (Borkowski’s),” she said. “My team said we should use it to our advantage. Whenever Ava would get triple-teamed that meant I would have less on me and in situations like that – where it’s really tough competition and some of our less-experienced forwards are having a hard time getting through – sometimes I just say, ‘Oh let me see if I can play around with it a bit, use some of these new moves I like, do something creative and hopefully I can get something done.’ In the playoffs that happened to work pretty well.”
“Kaleigh has been a tremendous player for our team throughout her four-year varsity career,” PW coach Charise Halteman said. “Her skill, vision and love for the game have allowed her to become a dominant player, especially this season as she provided vocal leadership as well as consistent and skillful play on both sides of the ball. Kaleigh demonstrated some of her best play during our playoff run and showed that she is able to perform best when the pressure is highest.”
Her top moment of the year came in the district semifinals against Methacton. The Colonials, who made it a priority to be more resilient in 2020 than they were in 2019, found themselves trailing 2-0 in the third quarter. Missimer score at the end of the third, tied the game in the fourth and won it in overtime, sending PW to the district championship for the second straight season with a 3-2 win.
“I honestly had no idea I scored three goals,” she said. “I just couldn’t wait to hug every one of my teammates. It was like we made it this far in the season and we’ve done all this together. All the hard work we’ve done went through my head and it was just – whenever I look back on it I don’t remember the goal it’s just everybody smiling, everybody jumping, everybody being happy and the fans on our home turf. I love thinking about that.”
Missimer’s team-first mentality is evident on the field. After a four-assist game against Upper Dublin to clinch PW an eighth straight league championship, Missimer said she likes getting assists more than scoring. At the end of every game, she’s the first player to sprint to goalie Sarah Trask to celebrate.
“A lot of teams hear Ava and my name and they think we have these two players in the center,” Missimer said. “I think it’s really fun to share the ball and it’s a really good way to play other teams. I think my team likes it too because everybody likes getting a goal and everybody likes getting passes from me. It makes everybody happier and it makes the game more fun. After the game I love hugging Sarah because in our league she may not get a lot of shots on her, but I know that every day she’s going to play her hardest and I really appreciated it. My way of sharing the ball and sharing responsibility is how I like to give back to my teammates for giving so much to me the whole game.”
Her dominance on the field stems from hard work in the offseason. She has visited family in Colorado every summer since she was little to train in the elevation to improve her conditioning and spends plenty of time working on her stickhandling so she can pull off her magician-like moves through multiple defenders.
“I like to think that one of my specialties is how creative I can be with the ball,” she said. “One of my favorite parts of the game is being able to make up new moves or learn new things so when I use them in a game it’s something people have never seen before. In the offseason I like to learn a bunch of new tricks so I’m able to use them on multiple people at once. I think it’s the most efficient way to get by a whole team and it’s the most fun way to play the game.”
Missimer signed her National Letter of Intent to play field hockey at American University on Nov. 17. She verbally committed a little over a year ago after the school checked her location, education and team-fit boxes.
“The second I heard (coaches) Steve (Jennings) and Kristen (Matula) and Rachel (McCarthy) talk and they were so excited to play,” she said. “They were very creative and their whole thing was about it’s OK to make mistakes because that’s the only way you get better. That’s honestly how I think. I like to be creative and to be creative and do new things you need to be able to make mistakes. When I went there for a clinic and I met the team it was just incredible the way they talked to each other and taught the team and the effort they put in. I just thought I would fit right in and it was perfect.”
Before heading to the nation’s capital, Missimer will continue to refine her skills with the Souderton Strikers and another trip to Colorado.
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