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Sports Person of the Week
Allen’s Always a Source of Support for the Warriors
Elizabeth Allen brings a defensive mindset to Valley Regional’s girls’ soccer and basketball squads. The sophomore plays goalie for the soccer team and is a steady forward on the basketball court. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Allen)
Elizabeth Allen has already made a big impact in her young career with two Valley Regional teams. Elizabeth, a sophomore, served as the starting varsity goalie for the Warriors girls’ soccer squad last fall, and she also plays forward on the girls’ basketball team. In only her second year of high school competition, Elizabeth brings plenty of experience to the table at Valley.
The Valley girls’ soccer team had to deal with a variety of complications from the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020 fall season. Elizabeth took it upon herself to support her team and earned the Warriors’ Coaches’ Award as a result.
“I won the Coaches’ Award this past soccer season, and that was a pretty big deal for me,” says Elizabeth. “I think what did it was just working on jelling the team together. I helped out a bit with the JV team, too. [Head Coach Lauren MacDonald] was alone without any assistant coaches, so I wanted to help out where I could.”
Elizabeth dedicates herself to soccer year-round, but her offseason team with the Vale Soccer Club hasn’t played for nearly a year. In addition, the Warriors’ fall season was canceled just before the Shoreline Conference Tournament due to positive COVID-19 tests at Valley Regional High School. Still, Elizabeth and her teammates tried to maintain a positive outlook through all the difficulties.
“The Vale Soccer Club didn’t have a season last spring because of COVID. It’s been really hard. We were supposed to have showcases for the colleges this winter, and we were off and on a lot with the high school season,” Elizabeth says. “We went through a lot of challenges, like not being able to play in Shorelines because we got shut down. I think the whole team just said, ‘...at least we got to play.’ Some schools didn’t even get to do that, so we just tried to stay grateful through everything.”
Prior to playing for Valley, Elizabeth already had a history of holding the line in front of the net. For as long as Elizabeth has played soccer, she’s been manning the goalkeeper’s position, as that has always been appealing to her.
“I’ve been playing since I was four. My friends and my sister Lauren played soccer, so I think my parents wanted to let me try it out to see how it would go,” says Elizabeth, who lives in Deep River. “I’ve always been a goalkeeper. I’ve always liked being that last line of defense. I like seeing the whole field and telling the girls where to go and being that person that can always support them.”
Elizabeth is currently preparing for an abbreviated basketball season at Valley, and she and her teammates have high hopes for this year. Elizabeth and the Warriors plan to leave everything out on the court in every game they play.
“Our main goal is to win Shorelines. I definitely think we can do it,” Elizabeth says. “We’re playing like it’s our last time, because we know that could be the case, that any game is our last game of the year. We’re going to give it our all and push through the Shorelines for that win.”
Elizabeth brings some versatility to the forward position in that she can do some work down in the post as a traditional power forward, but can also extend out to the perimeter, where a small forward would typically be. In either situation, Elizabeth prides herself on her defensive skills most of all.
“So last year I played mostly at the three or four, so I was going between the wing and post. I definitely enjoy taking the three on the wing, but I would say I’m mostly a defensive player,” says Elizabeth. “I take pride in playing defense and being able to make a big stop. I enjoy blocking shots. It’s very satisfying.”
Elizabeth plans to improve on her rebounding in general this season. A defensive stand isn’t truly a defensive stand until the rebound is secured, and Elizabeth wants to help turn the Warriors’ defense into offense by cleaning up on the glass.
“Personally, I want to improve on the boards by crashing and boxing out more. I think that’s something the team is working on as a whole, too,” Elizabeth says. “We don’t have a lot of height, so boxing out is something that we’re really working on. Our coach always says that legs are the strongest part of the body, so you have to use them.”
Elizabeth tries to watch as much professional basketball and soccer as she can in order to pick up some moves and strategies from the most successful athletes in her sports. Elizabeth’s favorite WNBA player is budding New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu, who owns the NCAA record for career triple-doubles with 26 while playing for the University of Oregon.
“For basketball, my favorite player is Sabrina Ionescu. Last year was her first year in the WNBA and, before that, she was really good when she played at Oregon. She just knows what to do in every situation,” Elizabeth says. “For soccer, I really like watching the women’s national team and just watch how they jell as a group. They always work well together. It’s exciting to watch.”
Valley Regional Athletic Director Jeff Swan has always admired Elizabeth’s drive to serve as the epitome of what it means to be a student-athlete.
“Elizabeth is a very talented athlete. She’s a really hard worker as a goalie and as a basketball player,” says Swan. “She’s one of the hardest-working girls on any team and, of course, she does the same in the classroom. She’s just a great kid who comes from a great family.”
When Elizabeth isn’t working hard at athletics or academics, she likes to unwind with several hobbies, especially playing music. Elizabeth has had plenty of chances to jam during the past year, but she always makes sure that she’s pursuing her athletic endeavors.
“I kind of pick up random hobbies sometimes. I like doing puzzles, and I play the drums and the piano. It’s just fun trying to play songs that I know. I really enjoy listening to music, so getting to play it is interesting to me,” Elizabeth says. “Being stuck at your house, it’s hard to stay motivated, but it’s important to keep your goals in your head. You have to keep up with them to get what you want done. My teams have been a big help for me through the pandemic. It’s been hard for everyone, and it’s nice to know that they have my back and support me.”