West Reaches Max-on Soccer Potential - TribPapers

West Reaches Max-on Soccer Potential

Marianne Maxon drives in on the Franklin goal. She scored twice in their 7-0 win. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Mills River – West Henderson (11-0; 5-0 M7) leads the Mountain Seven Conference. The Lady Falcons shut out opponents in their last six games, and in eight of their eleven victories. They’ve won by an average score of 5.8-0.4.

The Falcons won at two Mountain Athletic Conference superpowers – A.C. Reynolds (11-3; 3-2 MAC) by 3-2 and T.C. Roberson (7-4; 5-1) by 2-1. They won 5-2 over Hendersonville (8-2; 6-0), the Mountain Foothills Conference leader. The Falcons shut out everyone else, with ninth-grader Ella Collier as the main goalkeeper.

The other Mountain Seven teams in order of standings are Tuscola (3-3-2; 3-0 M7), North Henderson (2-4-2; 2-1-1), Franklin (4-6-1; 3-2-1), Smoky Mountain (4-7-1; 1-3), East Henderson (1-5-4; 0-4), and Pisgah (0-11; 0-4).

West went 20-4-1 and 23-4 in the past two seasons, winning three then four playoff matches. Undefeated West is off to an even better start in this season. Nearly half (four of nine) of West’s first nine wins were by a score of 9-0. That includes squashing Smoky Mountain 9-0 on the road on April 3, as Maxon scored four goals.

Max Output

Marianne Maxon has 161 career varsity goals, heading into this week. She set the career goal-scoring mark on April 3, when she scored the first of her two goals. She drilled in a shot over the Smoky Mountain goalkeeper’s reach from the center of the field. She has 24 goals in 11 matches, averaging more than two goals per game.

Maxon said “it’s crazy” to achieve the WNC career scoring mark. She surpassed the 155-goal mark of Asheville High School’s Hillary McKay (1999-2002).

Maxon has been all-state since her freshman season, when her elder sister Caroline was also all-state for West. Marianne Maxon scored 28 goals in 13 matches as a freshman, in a pandemic-shortened season. She set a Lady Falcon record with 57 goals as a sophomore, exceeding Lydia Vandenbergh’s 1999 mark by ten goals.

Maxon scored 52 goals as a junior, again averaging more than two goals per game. As a sophomore, she averaged 2.5 goals.

Maxon is committed to play for UNC-Charlotte. She said she is getting even better at “movement” and creative “runs” attacking upfield with teammates.

Maxon is 5-foot-9, muscled up, and fast. She scores by dribbling through defenses for point-blank shots and also by blasting in long shots.

Scoring Support

Head coach Brian Brewer likes the squad’s “balanced scoring.” He said that the Lady Falcons show a “killer instinct, to score from everywhere.” He praised their passing, speaking to the team at halftime against Smoky Mountain. 

Maxon leads a ferocious Falcon attack, which no longer also hinges on 2023 graduate Emma Chavez. Chavez scored 32 goals two years ago, then 23 in an injury-shortened senior season. In her absence, others elevated their game. Many are third- or fourth-year varsity starters.

West has three of the league’s top six goal scorers. Maxon has more than twice as many as anyone. But teammate Catherine Barton, a senior, is third with ten goals. Barton scored 19 times a season ago. Rhylie Druskis, a junior, is next with nine goals in 2024. Senior Lauren Clonch is tied for fifth in the conference with six goals.

East Henderson’s Lorena Salazar and Meagan Porter each have four goals, to lead the Eagles. Ava Staton’s three goals lead North Henderson and tie her with four other M7 scorers – including Falcons Noellle Houlihan, Reagan Simons, and Sarah Hughes. Seniors Maggie Bish (with 10) and Aurelia Retzbach (8) lead Hendersonville in goals scored.

Ava’s First Goals

Last week, West shut out Franklin 7-0 on April 8 and Enka 5-0 on April 11. West’s Ava Payne scored her first two varsity goals on April 8. Payne, Druskis, and Maxon each scored twice to lead West to victory. Payne and swift forward Sawyer Manuel are in ninth grade, bolstering skill depth. Manuel’s brother is multi-sport star Truitt Manuel.

Payne said that she joins in “encouraging” teammates during games. When asked about the team’s chemistry and personalities, Maxon grinned and said how it is “fun” to play with this group.

Clonch opened the scoring against Franklin on a pass from Druskis. Houlihan fed Payne and Druskis for the next two goals, a minute apart. West suddenly led 3-0, merely 15 minutes into the match. Maxon made it 4-0 two minutes before halftime. Druskis, Maxon, then Payne scored within an eight-minute span of the second half to make it 7-0 with 22:27 to play.

West played at Tuscola on Monday and hosted North Henderson on Wednesday, April 17. Next, West plays at East Henderson on Monday, April 22 at 6 p.m., and hosts Smoky on April 24. Final regular-season home matches are May 3 versus MAC leader Asheville (8-1-2; 5-0), and May 8 against Tuscola.