TALLMADGE — When it comes to the pitch, there are very few things Kate Hussing hasn’t seen since she first wore the blue and gold colors more than four years ago.
Nowadays, the offensively gifted Tallmadge senior forward is trying to cope with a disturbing reality that has proven to be unavoidable.
Her high school soccer career is on the verge of extinction.
"It’s crazy now that these four years have gone by and I’m finally a senior," Hussing said. "It feels good to be on top."
Reaching the "top" had been a bit overdue to put it mildly.
The Blue Devils, who lost some significant players to graduation, had struggled to find their way in a brutal two-conference league that is robust from top to bottom.
As a result, Tallmadge dropped its first three games rather handily to some pretty decent Suburban League opponents.
On Monday, Hussing rediscovered what it’s like to be back "on top." That’s because the formerly winless Blue Devils are officially off the schneid.
Tallmadge cruised to a 4-1 victory over previously unbeaten Alliance at Tallmadge Blue Devils Stadium.
The Blue Devils scored three goals in the first five minutes and held off the hard-charging Aviators the rest of the way.
Tallmadge also helped eliminate the negativity that becomes especially potent once the losses pile up.
"It felt really good to finally get a win," Hussing said. "It gets our spirits up because we definitely have been down."
Hussing got her "spirits up" with a backbreaking goal late in the game.
As the Aviators continued to fight tirelessly, the four-year varsity standout took matters into her own hands to close the deal.
Hussing got free on the right side and then smashed a low line drive into the opposite corner of the net.
At that point, Alliance’s hopes of a comeback had been ruthlessly terminated.
"That was the hardest I’ve seen Katie work all season," Blue Devils head coach Steve Davis said. "She created a lot for us [Monday]. That was good to see."
The scoreboard shows a somewhat convincing win by a team that was desperate to climb out of its deep, dark hole. However, this wasn’t a particularly captivating performance.
At least Hussing didn’t think so.
"We definitely put it in neutral and that was probably our biggest problem," Hussing said. "We just kind of sat back and thought, ‘We have this in the bag.’
"That definitely didn’t work out for us because they were clearly pressing us most of the first half."
Hussing knows the margin for error will be just about tight the rest of the way. Since the Suburban League will be formidable as always, another lethargic effort for any extended period of time will be absolutely prohibited.
Hussing and her teammates don’t plan to take such a fact for granted in the future. Thankfully, that learning process is already starting to materialize.
"In the beginning, we did a really good job pressing them," Hussing said. "They definitely came back and they got their spirits really high. In the second half, we came back."
If you know Hussing, you wouldn’t have a hard time figuring out why she spends so much time on the pitch. Soccer has been part of her DNA practically since birth.
Her two older brothers are Tyler Helderman and Nick Hussing. By the way, those two high-scoring forwards had a knack for making the opponents’ goal their personal playground.
They did quite often when North Munroe Road was their second home a short time ago.
Nowadays, the younger sister is more than happy to carry the illustrious family torch.
"I literally went to every single one of their games," Hussing said. "All of their plays, all of their moves, I watched every single one of them. They’re definitely my biggest inspiration."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.