TALLMADGE — Kylee McCracken stands barely higher than 5 feet tall.
Nevertheless, one may want to think twice before brushing off the Tallmadge girls soccer team’s diminutive stopper.
She’ll be more than happy to punish you.
“I just have to go in with the mentality that I’m going to crush and tackle and I can’t be worried about my height,” McCracken said.
Thanks to the fearless McCracken, the Blue Devils have been thriving on the pitch. Tallmadge earned its third straight win after posting a 5-2 victory over Akron Ellet Monday at Tallmadge Blue Devils Stadium.
Yes, McCracken’s bigger and stronger classmate, Kate Hussing, grabbed most of the headlines with a sparkling four-goal performance.
However, the Blue Devils (3-3) wouldn’t have enjoyed Hussing’s scoring fest if not for the compact McCracken.
Just ask her coach.
“There were some incredible tackles Kylee made with the ball out of the air,” Tallmadge head coach Steve Davis said. “She covered a lot of ground. For me, the goals were great, but I thought the defensive effort from her was outstanding.”
While Davis was willing to single out his stellar stopper, McCracken preferred to share the spotlight. Why not? Life has been quite peachy for the Blue Devils since a brutal 0-3 start.
“We really just played like a team,” McCracken said. “I’m just super proud of how we worked together. Coming out with less numbers than ever before, it was kind of difficult in the beginning, but we got the win.”
McCracken had perhaps the least glamorous role on the field Monday. She was faced with the difficult challenge of picking up the scent of Sydney Tucker wherever she went. Tucker happens to be one of Ellet’s top attackers up top.
“She kind of had her hands full because she had to mark Sydney pretty much the whole game,” Davis said. “She also had to cover a lot of ground to make up for other mistakes when people went through us. She was the engine behind the team [Monday].”
McCracken’s nonstop motor has been a necessity thus far. Due to a lack of a junior varsity team, McCracken and a number of her talented teammates have been just about indispensable.
If a rash of injuries infect the team down the road, Tallmadge could find itself in a perilous position.
“Without a JV team, it’s kind of difficult to get playing time, but everyone has stepped up super hard in practice to get more time,” McCracken said. “I think our back line has really pulled it together. We’ve played all three of defending, attacking, transition.”
McCracken performed those three critical tasks throughout the evening. In one sequence, she did them all at once.
That particular act of persistence had her coach gushing.
“It was a pivotal moment for me in the game when came back and sprinted 40 yards to make a tackle from behind,” Davis said. “They [the Orangemen] would have been three-on-one with our goalkeeper had she not made that play. She did that the whole game.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.