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Maxwell smashes mentor’s records

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Photographs by Special to NWA Democrat-Gazette/BUD SULLINS

Siloam Springs junior Audrey Maxwell (left) has scored a school-record 39 goals and is second on the team with 17 assists.

SILOAM SPRINGS — Of all the Siloam Springs soccer fans who have enjoyed Audrey Maxwell’s record-breaking season in 2017, perhaps no one has enjoyed it more than Sarah Kidd Viatrov.

Viatrov scored a then single-season record 27 goals in 2006 for the Lady Panthers and Adrienne Kennedy matched that total in 2011.

Maxwell, a junior forward, has smashed that record this season, having scored 39 goals for the Lady Panthers (23-3), who will play at noon Friday against Russellville for the Class 6A state championship.

It comes as no surprise to Viatrov. She helped develop Maxwell — and several other Lady Panthers — at a young age, first by teaching private lessons while in college at John Brown, and then assisting on Maxwell’s club team. She also babysat Maxwell and later helped train with her for speed and conditioning.

“Hearing that Audrey Maxwell surpassed my record scoring goals brings joy to my heart,” Viatrov said. “During our training sessions almost 10 years ago, I remember how she always came to the pitch excited to learn and grow as a player. Even at a young age, Audrey demonstrated an advanced technical ability and tactical awareness on the field. She developed her skills and soccer IQ quickly and became a force to be reckoned with very early on.”

Viatrov has been a role model to look up to, Maxwell said.

“Sarah Kidd (Viatrov) is one of the nicest people that I know,” Maxwell said. “She was just super happy for me to be doing well and for the rest of the team to be doing well. She always checks up on us and comes to lots of the games to support us. That’s actually why I picked No. 22 because that’s what she was in college.”

Simply put, Maxwell is having a monster season for Siloam Springs.

She’s scored at least one goal in 23 of Siloam Springs’ 26 games this season and has 12 games where she’s scored more than one goal. She scored a season-high four goals in the second game of the season against Van Buren and has three hat tricks (three goals in a game).

“I had a feeling last year at the end of the season, when we finally figured out where she needs to be playing at, that she would have a big year for us this year,” said Siloam Springs coach Brent Crenshaw. “Last year, we had her playing quite a bit of center mid, and she did a good job there for us. But at the end of the season, we figured out she’s a forward. That’s what she’s good at. That’s where she should have been at earlier in the year.”

Crenshaw said Maxwell is a unique player at the high school level because she can play with her back to the goal, but she can also beat players one on one.

“That’s a nightmare trying to defend her,” Crenshaw said. “You sit there and think, I’m going to get behind her with her back to the goal. But then she’s so good, she can receive a ball in the air, then she can turn and go with it. Or she can fake it and go and then just outrun you.”

Viatrov, who was the first four-time all-state Siloam Springs athlete from 2004-07, said Maxwell’s talent and athleticism have played an integral part, but it’s her character and work ethic that truly set her apart as a player.

“Audrey is one of the most driven, tenacious, hard-working individuals I have ever encountered,” Viatrov said. “She understands the discipline, dedication and determination it takes to succeed on the field. She is an exceptional leader and an essential part of her team. Audrey is a selfless player and often looks to pass the ball to her teammates before taking a shot herself.”

Evidence of Maxwell’s selflessness comes from her 17 assists, which ranks second on the team. Junior midfielder Megan Hutto, Maxwell’s friend and teammate, has 20 assists, which is also a new single-season record that broke the mark of 18 Viatrov set in 2007. Hutto also has scored 24 goals for the Lady Panthers.

When asked if it’s been fun watching Maxwell have so much success, Hutto gets emotional.

“I love every minute of it,” Hutto said choking back tears. “If I could have anyone out there doing what she’s doing, I would want it to be her. She’s the most unselfish. …”

“Me and Hutto have been best friends since I don’t know when,” Maxwell said. “We both want the other to do well. We never want the other one to fail and we share the ball really well. That’s why we played so well together because we love each other so much and it doesn’t matter who gets the goal.”

Among the Lady Panthers Viatrov has helped train are Maxwell, Hutto, Brooklyn Buckminster, Meghan Kennedy, Megan Rodgers, Mackenzie Jones and Sydney Bomstad.

She helped Steve Markovich coach those girls on a club team, the Soccer Chicks, and she was the head coach for some of them in indoor leagues and 3v3 tournaments.

”These girls have been a huge part of my life and I am so grateful,” Viatrov said.

Viatrov finished her Siloam Springs career with a school-record 101 goals and 45 assists. Both of those records could be in jeopardy.

Maxwell currently had 57 goals after scoring 14 last season and four as a freshman in 2014. She has 28 career assists.

Hutto meanwhile, is probably a longshot to reach the goal record, currently sitting at 39 for her career, but she has 37 assists for her career.

“She’s doing amazing,” Maxwell said of Hutto. “She’s super close to the (Viatrov’s single-season) record too, and it’s amazing the things that she does. She’s so fast, but she has moves, too. A lot of people have one thing. Megan has all of them.”

Viatrov doesn’t mind seeing the records fall if it means success for the players she’s helped along the way.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said. “I am proud of their success and want my records to be shattered by them.”

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