Flowery Branch freshman forward Maggie Wadsworth never had any issues transitioning to high school soccer. Wadsworth netted three goals in each of the Lady Falcons’ first two games to start the year — wins over Northgate and Gainesville — and hasn’t looked back since.
More recently, Wadsworth notched another hat trick — her fourth of the year — against No. 2 Marist in a 4-1 win last Tuesday that put Flowery Branch in the driver’s seat of Region 7-4A. Wadsworth has provided a new source of goals to an already dangerous Lady Falcons team coming off an appearance in state semifinals last year.
“She’s just added another threat for us,” Flowery Branch coach Anel Lilic said. “Her ability has just helped her make that impact, because she has played that well.”
Wadsworth’s “impact” has been obvious on the stat sheets from the beginning of the year. In the team’s first 12 games, she’s put in 24 goals to pace the Lady Falcons in scoring.
Although she’s younger than much of the competition, Lilic said Wadsworth’s athleticism is often too much for opposing defenders, who struggle to run with her once she gets in space.
“It’s really hard for defenders to keep up with her when she gets some separation from them,” he said.
That Wadsworth found her way to the field early on is a continuation of a recent trend within the Flowery Branch soccer program. Lilic said he tries to ignore a player’s age when it comes to roster decisions, rather picking his starters based on who will help the team the most.
As recently as last year, players like Larsyn Reid and McKenzie Kent also earned starting spots in their first years with the Lady Falcons after quickly proving their worth to the team.
“Some other high schools kind of look at it per class rank, whereas we’re always going to put the players who deserve to be on the field on the field no matter if they’re freshmen or seniors,” Lilic said. “From that standpoint, we kind of look at it based on their ability and how they fit into the team rather than their age.”
Wadsworth adds an extra punch to Flowery Branch’s offensive attack that not even Lilic was expecting. Her early involvement in the team was largely due to the absence of fellow forward Caroline Wysocki, who was still with the basketball team for the first few soccer games of the year.
It was an opening that Wadsworth made work to her favor.
She played so well, in fact, that once Wysocki came back, Lilic had to switch things around a bit to keep Wadsworth on the field. It’s a rearrangement that meant extra work for Lilic, but also added offensive potency to a team that is hoping to make another deep playoff run.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Lilic said.