Sophia Martelli, freshman stud, leads Buford into Georgia playoffs

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(Courtesy of Megan Hill)

For much of Sophia Martelli’s freshman season at Buford High School (Ga.), the forward took inspiration from the message she had written in sharpie on her wrist tape: “Just shoot.”

Martelli doesn’t need that reminder anymore. In the Wolves’ final game of the regular season, Martelli scored three goals, leading Buford to a 6-0 win over reigning 6A state champions Johns Creek.

It was a season-high performance for Martelli and earned her JWS Player of the Week honors.

“They were beautiful goals. They were competitive goals,” Buford coach Megan Hill said.

The freshman recorded nine goals and eight assists over 18 regular season games, and she figures to play a big role for Buford in the postseason, which began Thursday with a 4-0 win over Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.).

Her success is even more impressive considering she switched school districts ahead of the year. Still, she’s found bonds on and off the field with her teammates.

“We’re playing for each other. We all want to win,” she said. “It’s much more fun winning.”

After a perfect regular season, the Wolves are vying for a state championship. While they are regulars in the postseason, they’ve never won it all. The team only has four seniors, but Hill views the group’s youth as an asset.

“To continue to build on those younger players and mature, we’ll really have a fantastic chance,” Hill said.

In addition to playing at Buford, Martelli plays for Atlanta Fire United. In February, she was selected to play in the Elite Clubs National League’s (ECNL) U15 National Selection game.

Off the field, Martelli has a fondness for math. Whether she’s solving for X, or graphing a function, she’s building on the basics, as in soccer.

“You still have to know the basics to do what you do now,” she said. “The older your body and mind is, you learn how to use those skills in different ways.”

She’s been refining her skills on the field since age 3. A passion for soccer runs deep in Martelli’s family. It started with her grandfather Tony Martelli, who imparted his love for the game to his sons, Sal and Dom, the latter of whom coached Hill as a child.

That family connection has helped Martelli make her own name in a family in which men have had most of the success on the pitch. Inspired by the USWNT’s 2019 World Cup victory, and the attention that’s followed the team in the years since, Martelli is now carving her own path. And it helps to have Hill by her side.

Nika Anschuetz is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @nlanschuetz.