Maddie Anderson knew she had to be better, faster, smarter and more consistent this season.
Part of a small group of returning starters for a Pennridge girls soccer team determined to get back to Hershey, the senior midfielder knew more would be asked of her. It wasn’t anything new and Anderson simply did what she’s always done by working harder and training as much as possible to reach that level.
It showed on the field as the senior was a presence offensively, defensively and everywhere in between as Pennridge captured the District 1-4A title and reached the state semifinals.
After exceeding her own expectations, Anderson has been chosen as the Reporter/Montgomery/Times Herald Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year.
“I think it was definitely my best year I’ve had at Pennridge,” Anderson said. “I think last year, I was a little inconsistent with how I played but this year I was a lot more steady and had that same intensity in every game.”
Statistics don’t tell the entire story, although Anderson was certainly a contributor with four goals and six assists this fall, plus a handful of rebounds that led to goals and plenty of corner kicks the created chances. Much of her impact came in the way the Rams played, a high-possession style based on connecting passes, quick build-ups and winning the ball back when at the opposition’s feet.
Anderson had high expectations of herself but so did her coach.
“I think in some ways she surpassed what we expected just by being that presence in the midfield who could win that many balls,” Pennridge coach Audrey Anderson, also Maddie’s mom, said. “We had hoped for that but I was a little shocked how much she was able to win off of corners and free kicks and when she wasn’t there, it really did hurt us.”
Fair or not, there’s often a stigma attached to an athlete who has a parent as their head coach. Anything Maddie Anderson achieved was through her own work and putting in the incalculable hours of training and improving to be the best player she could be.
Playing mostly JV as a freshman and taking a slightly expanded role as a sophomore, Anderson cracked the starting lineup as a junior but in her own assessment never reached the level of play she wanted to. A good performance would follow with one or two inconsistent outings and she wanted to rewrite that script.
Mostly, Anderson wanted to prove she belonged on the field because of her ability and not her name.
“My mom always tells me ‘you’re never going to get handed anything,’ and growing up with her as my coach, that’s been what I go off, I have to work harder than everyone else,” Maddie Anderson said. “I can’t take one game off because someone’s always going to be there to see it and say something like ‘you’re only playing because your mom is the coach.’
“When I was being recruited, I had a college coach ask me how it’s been and I said it’s been really rough, I’ve had a lot of people say I don’t deserve certain things but they said it would help me because I would come into a college program mentally strong having gone through that.”
Almost as soon as the 2018 season ended, Anderson got back to work training and honing her skills to be more of a presence and leader on the field. She knew the Rams would have a lot of new faces in the starting lineup and wanted to be someone they could look to in a pressure moment and know the right decision would follow the ball off her foot.
Initially there was some thought about the senior playing center back, but once Lauren McIntyre and Maddie Angelo locked down those spots, Anderson was able to slot back in the central midfield. She would go on to form a dynamic duo with senior Chance Hendricks and meshed well with either Lindsey DeHaven or Grace Myers in the third spot.
Hendricks and Anderson played off each other perfectly, with Hendricks adding a second tough and physical ball-winner and the two seniors could interchange runs forward while the other covered the back line.
“I think a lot of it had to do with the players around her, she’s played with most of them growing up in the youth programs and they’re constantly making sure they know what the other one is doing,” Audrey Anderson said. “The players around her allowed her to be that calm on the field. She knew who was around her and who could do what.”
The midfielder played one of her best games this season in the District I final, where the Rams captured their first title since 2011. Not only did she battle Boyertown’s excellent junior Camilla Kuever, a German U16 national team member, all game but the senior help win and played the outlet ball that ended up as the match’s lone goal.
From the beginning, Maddie Anderson always wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Audrey (nee Dawson) Anderson had her jersey retired after a Hall of Fame career at the University of California (PA) and as soon as Maddie was able, she was jumping in training sessions as her mom began her coaching career.
“I would listen to my mom tell me stories about what she had done and I loved hearing those stories about her playing and it motivated me, when I was growing up, I wanted to go to her college and get her number that they had retired, it was always something I strived to do,” Maddie Anderson said. “Her being that role model for me I think helped me to go on and play in college.”
While older sister Gillian gravitated more toward basketball, Maddie was hooked on soccer. But she didn’t foresee her career unfolding along the same family path.
“I wanted to play in college but I didn’t know what level I would be able to play at, I was still growing into my body and I was actually pretty clumsy before I got to middle school,” Anderson said. “I wasn’t fast, I don’t think many people would have noticed me and I wouldn’t have stuck out when I was younger as a player. Once I got into eighth grade and my freshman year I knew if I wanted to play in college, I had to start training on my own and do things other people weren’t doing.”
Audrey Anderson is admittedly a tough coach on all her players and Maddie is no exception. The difference is, unlike everyone else on Audrey’s teams, they have to go back to the same house.
It’s certainly a unique dynamic and one the Andersons have worked hard to balance, especially the last two seasons when Maddie moved into the starting lineup.
“We take separate cars, which is great,” Audrey Anderson said with a laugh. “I’m proud of her as her coach but I’m also proud of her as a parent. I’ve learned over the course of many years coaching her I need to be her mom as well and she likes when I can talk to her not as a coach but just like any other parent especially after a game where she’s frustrated.
“We get a chance to digest the game and keep things in perspective. She’s a teenaged girl, I’m her coach but also her mom.”
Maddie Anderson said it took a little work, but the two of them figured it out.
“We have that time on the field and after the game, we get in our separate cars and once we get home, it’s like she wasn’t my coach,” Maddie said. “We do a really good job of separating home and what happens on the field. It would be really frustrating if we didn’t have that kind of relationship and everything was just about soccer.”
While Gillian Anderson did play soccer at Pennridge, basketball was her main sport and the sisters were able to bond through their shared competitive nature.
“She loves coming to my games and I loved going to her basketball games,” Maddie said. “Having my sister be such a good basketball player opened my eyes to the differences that people face in different scenarios in other sports. It was cool to see what she did to prepare for her basketball season compared to what I did to prepare for my soccer season and I loved going to her games and being in that different atmosphere.”
Anderson didn’t end up following her mom to Cal and instead will be a part of the St. Joe’s program next year. While the senior is excited for the next step and continuing to work for everything she wants, part of her is sad her time at Pennridge is over.
“I have never been more proud of a team that I’ve been a part of,” Maddie Anderson said. “I’m so glad and fortunate I could be a part of this program and especially this year. I feel like so many younger players stepped up and even if they weren’t getting the playing time they felt like they should have, everyone who was a part of the team was so supportive.”
2019 The Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery News All-Area Teams
F: Emily Varilla (So./North Penn)
F: Kellie Gillen (Sr./Lansdale Catholic)
F: Taylor Moyer (So./Central Bucks West)
M: Maddie Anderson (Sr./Pennridge)
M: Cam Ryan (Sr./Hatboro-Horsham)
M: Chance Hendricks (Sr./Pennridge)
M: Tori Albrecht (Sr./Central Bucks West)
D: Maddie Angelo (Jr./Pennridge)
D: Grace Sacchetti (Sr./North Penn)
D: Ava Schreiber (Jr./Plymouth Whitemarsh)
D: Darby Kramer (Sr./Souderton)
GK: Meghan Kriney (Sr./Pennridge)
F: Casey Touey (Jr./Abington)
F: Carly Amato (Sr./Wissahickon)
F: Ryan Fitzsimmons (Sr./Central Bucks West)
M/F: Averie Doughty (Jr./Souderton)
M: Mollie Hanson (Sr./Gwynedd Mercy Academy)
M: Lindsey DeHaven (Jr./Pennridge)
M: Leighann Kafel (Jr./Archbishop Wood)
D: Casey Cavanaugh (Sr./North Penn)
D: Bella McNew (Jr./Plymouth Whitemarsh)
D: Julia Boccella (Sr./Lansdale Catholic)
D: Sarah White (Sr./Gwynedd Mercy Academy)
GK: Jaclyn Martino (Jr./Upper Moreland)
Abington: Maura Day (Fr./M), Emily Friel (Sr./D)
Archbishop Wood: Alyssa DeGeorge (So./F), Paige Hoeger (Jr./F)
Bishop McDevitt: Samantah Dever
CB West: Erin Fitzsimmons (Sr./D), Keely McGlone (Jr./D)
Cheltenham: Donya Baxter (Jr./F)
Dock Mennonite: Laura Frederick, Emma Kratz
Faith Christian: Karleigh Garber, Cassidy Norley
Germantown Academy: Lily Funk
Gwynedd Mercy Academy: Sam Berish (Jr./F), Hailey Morris (Jr./D)
Hatboro-Horsham: Maggie O’Neill (Jr./F), Emily Thomas (So./F)
Lansdale Catholic: Danielle Mehlmann (Sr./D), Taylor Connelly (Sr./M)
Lower Moreland: Nicole Castor (Sr./F), Ceili Courduff (Sr./GK)
Methacton: Jessica Lineen (Jr.), Kate Evans (Sr.)
Mount Saint Joseph: Madison Hornig (Sr./F)
Norristown: Emily Brownell (So.)
North Penn: Emily Schurr (Sr./M), Tia Sheehy (Sr./M)
Pennridge: Lauren McIntyre (Sr./D), Emily Kriney (So./F)
Plymouth Whitemarsh: Kaitlyn Flanagan (So./D), Natalie Lannie (Jr./M)
Saint Basil Academy: Lizzie Deal (Sr./M), Maria Storck (Sr./D)
Souderton: Morgan Molyneaux (Jr./GK), Hannah Alderfer (Jr./F)
Springfield-Montco: Elena Hincapie, Macy Lietzel
Upper Dublin: Laura Pendleton (Sr./M), Anna Desch (Jr./M)
Upper Merion: Sophia Lamesta (Jr.)
Upper Moreland: Kathryn Morrow, Grace Burns
Wissahickon: Kylie Friedman (Fr./F), Margo Kasenchar (Fr./D)
William Tennent: Liz Layer, Caroline Weir
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