Senior Mauer Thriving in Switch to Back Line, Helping Hun Girls’ Soccer Get Off to 6-1-1 Start
HEADS UP PLAY: Hun School girls’ soccer player Kiki Mauer, right, heads the ball in recent action. Senior standout Mauer has shored up the back line, having big games at center back last week as the Raiders topped Pennington 1-0 on September 28 and then blanked Germantown Academy (Pa.) 1-0 last Friday. Hun, which improved to 6-1-1 with the win over Germantown, is slated to host Villa Joseph Marie High (Pa.) on October 7 and Blair Academy on October 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Kiki Mauer is naturally an attacking midfielder but she has moved to the back line for the Hun School girls’ soccer team this season by necessity.
“I started out very offensive but then the team needed me so I stepped in at center back,” said senior co-captain Mauer.
“I have never played it. I play offensive midfield for my club team [YMS-Yardley Makefield Soccer].”
Mauer has formed a connection with junior Tooni Olaleye as they have both adjusted to assuming key defensive roles.
“We have a great, phenomenal partnership back there,” said Mauer.
“Working with Tooni, she makes it so easy for me. We make it easy for each other. We are learning it together because Tooni has never played center back either.”
The pair displayed how well they have learned those lessons, spearheading a 1-0 breakthrough win over perennial powerhouse Pennington on September 28.
“We came out strong and we came out with confidence,” said Mauer, reflecting on the victory which was Hun’s first win over the Red Raiders since topping them in the 2014 Prep A state title game. “We knew we could do it and we did it.”
Three days later, the Hun defense was rock-solid again as the Raiders defeated visiting Germantown Academy (Pa.) 1-0 before a raucous Friday night lights crowd on hand for the school’s homecoming weekend.
“It is always crazy when it is homecoming and everyone is here,” said Mauer.
“We have been learning how to move with each other. It has been a huge teamwork.”
The Raiders had to survive a tense final sequence in the waning moments of the contest which saw the Germantown goalie blast a free kick that was fisted just over the net by Hun goalie Zoey Palmer.
“That was crazy, we were very nervous; there is like a minute left and we are freaking out,” recalled Mauer. “Zoey is a phenomenal goalie so we knew she had it in her.”
With Hun producing a 6-1-1 start this fall after going 0-4-1 in a 2020 season abbreviated by COVID-19 concerns, Mauer is thrilled with the progress the squad has made.
“Last year we only played five games,” said Mauer. “We have never had this many wins this early in the season. It is giving us great confidence and we just have to work with that and put it into action.”
Dealing with the tough times last fall steeled the Raiders.
“I think it is our bonding,” said Mauer. “Last year really brought us together because decided what we wanted out of this team and so now we are working for that.”
Hun head coach Jenn Barrett saw the win over Pennington as evidence of how far the team has come.
“Beating Pennington was huge, we knew we could do it,” said Barrett.
“I believed in our team. We have been working hard, we had the grit to do it. Every single person came to play and played their hearts out.”
The Raiders showed heart again last Friday in edging Germantown, a formidable team that also posted a win over Pennington this fall.
“We were facing another very good team with the excitement of homecoming which I think is awesome,” said Barrett, who got a goal from Gabi Rollins late in the first half against the Patriots that proved to be the margin of victory.
“I think it rattled them a little bit but they pulled it together and got the win.”
Hun played some very good soccer in the second half as it held off Germantown.
“We definitely had a little better of the possession in the first half,” said Barrett.
“We settled in the second half for sure. I reminded them that we need to play our game, no matter what the situation, the environment or the other team. We are extremely good at passing, getting our combinations and building up the play.”
The Raider defense rose to the occasion. “The defensive effort overall was phenomenal, they held it together the entire time,” said Barrett.
“They played their game, they stay connected as a unit. Zoey did what she had to do at the best moment.”
Barrett credits the pair of Mauer and Olaleye with stepping up as they have done what is best for the team.
“They are amazing; they have really adapted and have just taken to the play,” said Barrett.
“They have really seized the moment, they have taken it and have done the best that they can.”
Barrett sees good moments ahead for her squad. “I always tell them that positivity is contagious and the only thing more contagious is negativity,” said Barrett, whose team is slated to host Villa Joseph Marie High (Pa.) on October 7 and Blair Academy on October 9.
“We try very hard to be positive. We have been in a situation where we haven’t been winning games. We know what is it like on the other end so we are so thankful and grateful. What I want us to do is to continue to doing what we are doing, playing our game, and continuing the effort. If we do that, I am sure that good things will happen.”
Mauer, for her part, is enjoying a very positive final high school campaign.
“We just have to keep working together,” said Mauer. “We are really a great group of girls. I have never been more excited in my life about a team.”