DECATUR — It’s easy to see why St. Teresa girls soccer forward Camryn Wagner feels 2019 was her favorite season in high school.
Wagner, a senior, excelled near the goal again with 27 goals and six assists, bringing her career total to 134 — the most in Bulldogs' program history. The team also advanced to the Class 1A Super-sectionals, the furthest a St. Teresa girls soccer team has advanced.
“I was really sad to see my high school career ending but the things I’m taking away from it are that we went super far and I had a wonderful season,” she said. “This was my favorite season by far. The team chemistry was insane. We were all super close and it made the season more fun and exciting and more enjoyable.”
Wagner is the Herald & Review Girls Soccer Player of the Year for the third consecutive season.
Beyond the team’s achievement, Wagner also got to enjoy competing with her younger sister, Ryenne Wagner, who joined the team as a freshman midfielder.
"I think that’s the reason why this is my favorite season more than anything," Camryn said. "I’ve been waiting for this one for the longest time and actually being able to play with (Ryenne) I was really able to see her talent, not only just watching but playing with her. “It was eye-opening and it showed what a good player she is but also her potential.
"Being able to have your teammates also be your family is very exciting and it was sad to see it end in the super-sectionals.”
With Camryn graduating, there is a key spot open in the Bulldogs’ offensive scheme. Does one Wagner want to replace another on the scoring mantel?
“I don’t think (Ryenne) does," Camryn said. "I think she is a powerhouse in the middle. She is a playmaker and she is aggressive and smart and I think where she is now is great for her.
“I totally have faith that she could take on my records if she moved up to forward, but with how strong and smart she is that center midfielder spot is perfect for her.”
While Wagner scored more goals in her sophomore and junior years, it was her improved leadership and adjusting to the scoring potential of freshman Grace Buxton (18 goals, four assists) that stood out.
“When she first came, we knew she had that special talent," St. Teresa coach Connor Smith said. "At the start I never thought she was going to take off the way that she did.”
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Smith joined the Bulldogs' coaching staff as an assistant during Wagner’s freshman year.
“She’s grown each year, especially this year when she became a captain," Wagner said. "She took more responsibility and was communicating more. This year she got to play her own natural style rather than having to put everything on her back in past years."
Wagner said she took her captain duties to heart and became more outgoing with her younger teammates.
“Being captain was fun and exciting," Wagner said. "I had to be one of the voices for the team out there on the field. Being the captain for the forwards, I had to take control and help out my other forwards and really be a voice and be loud and supportive.”
Wagner said she hopes to continue to play that free style next year on the women’s soccer team at Millikin. It was important for her to be close to home in making her college choice.
“I really like to be around home and close to my family," Wagner said. "Millikin is a great school so I’m really excited to continue to my next step in soccer right down the road from me in my hometown."
Smith said he'sis confident that Wagner will bring the style of play to the next level.
“(This season) I think she learned what to expect as a team player and what she can do off the ball," Smith said. "I think that is where she grew this year — checking two and creating space when she doesn’t have the ball made her a more deadly threat when we moved her out wide. I’m glad she is continuing on in college because she deserves that.”
Along with the Bulldogs’ boys soccer team that made it to state last season, the girls team has put St. Teresa on the map as a growing soccer powerhouse.
“Being in a small school out of Decatur I think it is impressive that we were able to get that far as we did," Wagner said. "It really challenged us and it set up a legacy for the next few years for the girls soccer program.
“St. T soccer overall has a lot to live up to with the senior class that graduated. I have no doubt that they will be able to make it as far as we did and it will be exciting to watch them over the next few years.”