Alton soccer star Emily Baker coming into her own as player and leader

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(Courtesy of Falisa Rabozzi)

Every morning Emily Baker pops in her headphones, closes her eyes and loses herself in the music of hip hop artist Lil Baby and country singer Morgan Waller. The artists have completely different sounds, but together they unlock the competitor inside Baker.

“I need to listen to a variety of music everyday in order to get into a rhythm,” Baker said. “It’s very different, but it’s what I like and it works for me.”

Baker, a junior forward for the Alton High School (Illinois) girls’ soccer team, has become a team leader this season. And she’s reached an even higher level over the past week, scoring eight goals as the Redbirds rolled to three straight wins.

It was a stretch Baker won’t soon forget, and it earned her JWS Player of the Week honors.

“Emily has become the player that I can go to and give her a job or a responsibility, and she takes that upon herself to make sure that the rest of the team follows,” coach Gwen Sabo said. “It’s been really nice to see her go from a freshman to a young adult who has become a leader.”

In last Thursday’s game against Althoff Catholic, Baker scored two goals in near freezing temperatures and rainy weather to help Alton force overtime. In penalty kicks, she scored again. On the other side of the field, her twin sister Peyton, the Redbirds’ goalkeeper, made the necessary saves to secure the win.

Baker also shone in front of a sold-out crowd Monday in a 7-0 win against crosstown rival Marquette Catholic. She was subbed out with 24 minutes left in the contest, having already scored four goals, and was serenaded with cheers from the home fans. Baker’s request to remain in the game was denied by Sabo.

“I just wanted to compete in front of my parents, but I also understood that we had a big game the next day,” Baker said. “I was happy to see our crowd cheer me on, but to see the opposing team’s crowd sigh a breath of relief made me want to stay in.”

To end the three-game stretch, Baker scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Collinsville. But her work this season is hardly complete.

“My goal is to win the conference this year with my best friends and my sister,” Baker said.

Kevin Colindres is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. He has previously reported for the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News and El Tecolote. He enjoys film and comic books when he’s not playing basketball with his friends. Follow him on Twitter @kevinjcolindres.