Tyra King sends Metea Valley to first-ever state semifinal

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(Courtesy of Tyra King)

When Metea Valley’s (Aurora, Ill.) Tyra King steps onto the pitch, she’s surrounded by family. From her sister in the backfield to her parents in the stands, soccer is a family affair.

On Tuesday night, the King family took the two-hour trip down I-55 for a supersectional showdown against Edwardsville.

Heading into the game, the junior forward was nervous. But in the 25th minute, she settled those nerves and gave the Mustangs room to breathe. Receiving a pass from teammate Leanne Barrett, she dribbled her way into the box.

“I was actually going to take another touch,” King said.

With an Edwardsville defender tugging on her jersey, she knew she had to shoot. So she fixed her eyes on the goalie and arced the ball into the back of the net.

King’s goal helped Metea Valley secure a 2-0 victory and clinch the program’s first trip to the state semifinals, earning her JWS Player of the Week honors.

King’s 19 goals this season lead the way for the Mustangs, who enter Friday’s match with a 20-2-1 record. She’s averaging nearly a goal per game, and while she doesn’t obsess over stats, she knows her impressive tally makes her a threat to opposing defenses.

“They look at your stats. They start to man mark and double mark you,” King said. “Sometimes I couldn’t score because of it.”

Still, King manages to find a way.

Coach Chris Whaley is impressed with King’s work ethic and leadership. He says she’s really opened up this season as she leads the team by example.

“The girls definitely look to her to make things happen,” Whaley said. “Early on, we saw how much she loves playing high school soccer and how much it means to her.”

For King, it means playing alongside her classmates and her older sister, Justyce. This is the last year they’ll play together, and while they may be on different sides of the field, their bond is unconditional.

King and the Mustangs will take the field again Friday against Lincoln-Way Central as they continue their quest toward becoming state champions.

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