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Even at an early age, Katie Toney only knew one thing when she was playing soccer – she wanted to score. She hasn’t slowed down since, including Tuesday night when she became a record holder.
Toney became the highest scoring Lady Pioneer in history at home, breaking the old record with a five-goal night in a 7-2 blowout of Summit. Toney pushed her career mark at WCHS to 98 goals, surpassing Ansley Mullican’s 95 goals scored from 2010-13. The senior rocketed to the top in the last three games, including passing Morgan McCormick (90 goals, 2010-13) with a hat trick last week against Oakland.
The speedster with limitless energy and a cannon leg didn’t need a spectacular score to break through Tuesday night. The record breaker was one of the few times when it didn’t take a sensational play, multiple efforts to fight through several defenders or letting it fly from an impossible angle. Toney was just in the right place at the right time and poked it past the keeper, watching it slowly roll across the line with a smile.
“It was pretty cool. I didn’t expect it to be some dramatic goal – any goal was going to work,” said Toney about the record breaker.
Todd Willmore has been on the sidelines for all 98 (and counting) goals. He made sure to get the game ball out when Toney scored and presented it to her after the game. He also had plenty of praise for his selfless senior, one that would just as easily be happy with zero goals and 98 wins.
“Katie deserves all the recognition she gets. She is one of our hardest working players. She never lets up – it doesn’t matter if we’re running 110-yard sprints, she’s working her butt off to be first if she can. That’s just the way she plays and her mindset,” said Willmore. “It’s fun to see to people who work hard get rewarded for their work. It was great to be at home too.”
Anybody who has played with Toney knows she has a nose for the goal. She’s been netting hat tricks since she could put on shin guards – and probably even before that time.
“It’s something I’ve always done since I was little. I’ve always been determined to get goals in the game,” said Toney, who notched her first five-goal game in high school on the record-setting night.
Once she got to the high school, the scoring never stopped. Toney put 19 in the net as a freshman, earning District 6AAA rookie of the year honors along the way in the 2018 season. As a sophomore, she upped her scoring to 28 goals, then topped it with 29 goals last season. In each of the last two years, Toney has been named the District 6AAA MVP, all-region (including Co-Region MVP in 2019) and all-state.
The accolades are likely to keep rolling in for Toney as she has already amassed 22 goals in nine games this season, leading Warren County to a 7-2 mark. On Tuesday, it didn’t take her long to figure out it may be the night she would earn another amazing accolade.
After Tuesday's game, coach Todd Willmore presented Katie Toney with the ball that she sent into the net for her record-setting 96th goal.
“After the first one in the first minute, I thought ‘You know what, I think this is going to be a good game.’ Everybody was playing so energized. It just felt good,” said Toney.
Toney credited teammate Bekah Jackson for her continuous help along the way, including two more assists Tuesday. “I’ve always had Bekah and she plays me some great balls,” said Toney after the game.
Jackson, an accomplished goal scorer as well, has never minded making the final pass before the score. She’s been dishing to Toney for a decade and plans on continuing to do it for as long as she can.
“We have played together since we were 5. We know how each other plays and can see each other and know where we’re going to be. Her getting the record means a lot to me and it’s something to look up to,” said Jackson, who finished with two goals Tuesday.
Toney was mobbed by teammates after the game when she was presented the game ball. It was no shock for Willmore to see the love the Lady Pioneers showed the team captain. Toney has never carried a superstar attitude onto the field – she shares all the glory with her friends and teammates.
“It’s the back-and-forth with teammates that allows great players like Katie to excel. She can do it all – she’s capable of doing great things. She’s also the first to tell you that she loves her teammates and I think her teammates love her. It really helps,” said Willmore.
Even former Lady Pioneers adore the school’s newest scoring star. Though she never played with Toney, Ansley Mullican has watched many games over the last few years as her record was approached. When Toney finally toppled the mark, Mullican was quick to offer her praise.
“I want to congratulate Katie for breaking the 95-goal record. She is a great athlete and has worked tremendously hard to break that goal. She deserves it,” said Mullican, who has been a teacher at WCHS the last few years. “I wish her the best of luck as she continues her soccer dream!”
Toney still has plenty of dreams and goals to go as a Lady Pioneer, but none include personal accolades. When asked after the game about the importance of getting to 100 goals or getting a district title, Toney emphatically said, “A district championship, of course!”
Odd are, if she keeps scoring like she has her whole career, the team title will come just as easily as her new title – the highest scoring Lady Pioneer.