Fort Osage junior Megan Lyon, who was the team’s leading scorer last season, missed the conditioning portion of tryouts due to her theater class.
When she finally got there, Lyon didn’t think much of it when teammate Elisah Miller said there was a really good freshman trying out for the Indians.
“I was like, ‘Really? A freshman? Whatever,” Lyon said. “Then Elisah said, ‘No. She’s really good.” And I was like, ‘OK, whatever.’”
But then Lyon met the freshman – Aliyah Ayala. And when they first started practicing together, they instantly clicked.
“I saw her and said, ‘OK, let’s see what you got,” Lyon recalled. “Then she showed me what she got, and I said, ‘Oh, ok.’ I was taken away.”
Ayala has proven her worth to the Indians through 13 games this season, and is becoming one of the best players in the Kansas City area. On Thursday, she scored four goals in a 5-0 win over Truman, bringing her total to 21 on the season. She is one of the main reasons the Indians are off to a 12-1 start this season, and already is just 13 short of tying the school record for most goals in a season set by Brandi Beale in 2003 with six games to go in the regular season.
“It has been on my mind,” Ayala said of the record. “I already tied the record for goals in one game (with five, tying Beth Bedsworth’s performance in 2010) last weekend. I am trying to get as close to as many records as possible.”
And seeing Ayala strive for those records has been something special for first-year Indians coach Michael Brown.
‘When we put the pressure on her shoulders, she does well,” he said. “She does well, especially for being a freshman.”
So what makes Ayala such a good player?
“She knows where to be and when to be there and when to hold the ball up and when to be quick,” Brown said. “When she gets in front of the net, she can finish in many ways. She can finish on the run, with her back to the goal and can finish going across her body. She can dominate a game, which is incredible for a freshman.”
Added Lyon: “She has a way to go to the goal. She has a GPS in her mind, where the goal is. It’s like a natural ability.”
Ayala’s ability to make shots with both feet also has made it tough for other teams to defend her. She normally shoots with her right foot, but against Truman, she made three shots with her left.
“I have worked on that for a long time,” Ayala said of shooting with both feet. “We do lots of timing drills and go through cones (with her club team), and that helps me with her footwork and shooting with both feet.”
Last season, Lyon was counted upon to score most of Fort Osage’s goals. This year, she has Ayala’s help. And Lyon said Ayala has taken a lot of the pressure off her.
“Last year, if we had a hard game against Staley, (former coach Andrew) Fletcher would put me up and would tell us to play defense,” Lyon said. “If you get a chance, get it to Megan, and Megan will run. Now we can work it up, and we have people in the middle that we trust. Then I know if I am in trouble, Aliyah is going to be there. And she’s in trouble, I am going to be there along with the midfield.”
“We work really well together,” Ayala said. “She loves to pass up the ball and gives really good balls. And I try to get her some, too.”
And even though Fort Osage is just 13 games into the season, Ayala has already produced some memorable moments.
“The one that sticks out to me is her penalty kick in double overtime against Staley,” Brown said of his team’s 3-2 win against its Suburban Middle Six rival. “We’d never beaten Staley before that.”