Wright State soccer star Aaliyah Patten didn’t really have a set position this season because her skill set was needed all over the field.
But no matter where the senior from Fairborn roamed, opponents knew they had to shadow her with defenders or risk paying the price.
“She’s a game-changer,” coach Pat Ferguson said. “They had to say, ‘How do we want to play against Wright State and how do we want to account for Aaliyah Patten?’”
Despite the extra attention, Patten was honored last week as the Horizon League women’s soccer player of the year — the first Raider to earn that honor.
She didn’t have eye-bulging stats, notching four goals and five assists as the Raiders finished 6-9-2 overall, but opposing coaches recognized how valuable she was.
Her 43 shot attempts this year were second in the league and indicative of how much pressure she put on defenses.
“We played her on both sides as a forward and at the midfield a little bit, too,” Ferguson said. “She probably would have been better served if we put her on top out wide and left her alone, but we just couldn’t do that because of some injuries and inexperience. But no matter where she went, she made an impact.”
Patten earned all-league honors as a sophomore and junior and won’t be easily replaced.
“It’s not just her pace of play and work rate, but her personality as well,” Ferguson said. “She’s a big personality, and that’s going to be a challenge to fill.”
MEN’S SOCCER: First-year coach Jake Slemker was named conference coach of the year, and six of his players earned league honors Monday.
Junior Joel Sundell was named goal-keeper of the year after allowing 15 goals in 16 games. Senior Dan Bent was named defensive player of the year for the second time.
Slemker lauded Bent for his leadership and said of Sundell: “He’s really grown up this year. He’s done a great job in the goal. I continue to see him develop. I think he’s got the potential to play at the next level, too.”
Alec Philippe, who is second in the conference with 26 points (11 goals and six assists), and Jackson Dietrich, who is tied for second with 11 assists, were named first-team all-conference, while Deri Corfe (nine goals, seven assists) and Stefan Rokvic (10 goals, two assists) were second-team picks. All four are juniors.
Slemker on Philippe: “He’s had a great year. He continues to work hard. He brings a ton of energy to training and games. It’s good to see him really take off this year.”
On Jackson: “He’s got the weapons around him. He’s great at facilitating the ball. He’s a very smart soccer player.”
On Corfe: “To be fair, he probably should have another four or five goals easily. But the keepers have made some big-time saves on him. He can score at will at times. When he gets firing, he can be really good at this.”
On Rokvic: “He’s very smooth on the field. There’s times when he’s really clicking, and there’s times when we have to motivate him to get going. But he’s got the ability to score goals in a lot of different ways.”
Slemker is grateful for how the team has responded to him as coach after seven years as an assistant. The top-seeded Raiders (13-2-2) host No. 6 Milwaukee (9-7-2) in the conference tourney semifinals at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“Each week you could see it clicking over a little bit,” he said. “They got more comfortable and more excited and more passionate about what we’re doing. I feel like it’s been a really good progression since the summer.”