Maria Nelson didn’t have to come back to the Medina girls soccer team this season.
The senior had it all with a scholarship to Tennessee in hand and accolades that made her a top 150 national recruit and four-star standout.
She played for her club team, the Internationals, last season after playing the previous two seasons with the Bees.
But the pull to come back was too strong, and it resulted in her being named Gazette MVP.
“I really just wanted to play with my best friends,” Nelson said. “I knew that this would be my last year. I had nothing against (coaches Doug Coreno and Brad Wojnarowsky). I loved playing with them my freshman and sophomore year. Coming back and having the year I did, I’m really glad I did.”
That decision wasn’t lost on Coreno, who watched his team flourish under the Ohio Division I Offensive Player of the Year.
The Bees shared the Greater Cleveland Conference title with state runner-up Strongsville, won the Akron District and rolled off a 17-1-2 season.
“It says so much about who Maria is as a person,” Coreno said. “Unfortunately, in this day and age of sports, you so often see athletes make decisions with their own best interest in mind. For Maria to say, ‘Hey, I want to come back for the team, for the school and for the community,’ that is really cool and speaks volumes about her.”
The Greater Akron District and Greater Cleveland Conference Player of the Year didn’t just get it done, she got it done in volumes. With game-winning goals against Copley, Elyria, Walsh Jesuit, Massillon Jackson and Wadsworth, Nelson stood out more than anyone on the pitch.
Add the fact she assisted game-winners against Mentor, Euclid, Westlake and Wooster and the forward wasn’t afraid to dish it, either.
“You think you’ve got her shut down, and then in the 80th minute she pops up and puts the game away,” Wadsworth coach Paul Williford said. “It’s hard to defend a player like that for a full game. You can hope to slow her down, but eventually she’s going to work hard enough to get through you.”
Williford and the Grizzlies know all about Nelson’s prowess. She not only knocked them out of the Akron District, she scored three goals and had two assists in two games against the squad.
The assists possibly stood out more than anything. Her 22 goals were electric, but her 18 helpers were a school record.
“That makes her more dangerous than a true scorer,” Williford said. “She makes the people around her better. If she’s not having the best game, you have to be aware that she’s not going to do it on her own. She’s going to get other players involved. Now that you’re concentrating on her, she sets up two other people and you’re not ready for it. She’s got great vision on the field. Since I’ve been at Wadsworth, she’s one of the top three or four players that we’ve played against.”
With 10 multi-point games in the 20 she played this season, Nelson also registered at least a point in 17 of them.
“She’s probably the most complete player I’ve ever coached at Medina,” Coreno said. “You could literally put that kid anywhere on the field, and she could perform at an All-America level. It was all about the team. It was all about getting wins and making the team better.
“She’s definitely one of the top two or three kids who has ever come through Medina High School. I know Tennessee is really excited to have her.”
While the Volunteers were excited to see her sign her letter of intent on Nov. 14, opposing coaches weren’t all that upset to see her exit the program.
That said, there wasn’t a negative comment across the board as teams marveled at her success and showed incredible appreciation for what she did for Northeast Ohio soccer this season.
“Even when you think you have her down and under control, her movement opens up everyone around her,” Brunswick coach Scott Ward said. “I love her story that she came back to high school, because I still believe high school sports are important. I’m glad for her success.”
- Coreno resigns as Medina girls soccer coach
- Medina's Parker Csiszar, Maria Nelson named all-Americans
- Stone-cold stunner: Twinsburg upsets Medina in regional semifinals
- Full Nelson: Tennessee recruit leads Medina over Wadsworth
- Medina rallies in second half to beat Copley
- Own-goal leads to unsatisfying tie for Medina against Strongsville
- Clash of the titans between Medina, Strongsville could happen again
- Medina girls make statement by snapping Walsh Jesuit's 107-game home unbeaten streak
- Maria Nelson goes wild as Medina routs Wadsworth in rare Kenneth Dukes Stadium game
- Medina rallies against Magnificat, but tie leaves an empty feeling