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ALBRIGHT: It may be a little early, but Patriots’ Samara Nunn making girls’ soccer POY voting a piece of cake

Parkersburg South midfielder Samara Nunn is the 2021 West Virginia Girls Soccer State Player of the Year.

Period.

End of discussion.

Okay, so that last part isn’t entirely true. There are going to be two conversations, one amongst the coaches and one amongst the sportswriters. Cases are going to be made, voices may be raised, with voting taking place. Regardless, in a year where it appears Wheeling Park, George Washington and Cabell Midland have candidates of their own, this is an easy call: Nunn stands out.

She’s the ultimate soccer player. There is no one close. No other single person in the state does more for her team than Nunn does for the Patriots. And she doesn’t only score goals; we will get to that later. Just ask Morgantown coach Stirlin Rivers. As the head of a rival Ohio Valley Athletic Conference school, he’s game planned for her more than just about anyone else.

“She’s a game changer,” he said. “She makes a difference. Her experience being a senior and going through so many years playing with and against great players has helped her mature on the field.”

Exactly.

Look at what she did against the Mohigans in the OVAC title game. Even with two players on her due to the constant attention she draws, Nunn still found a way to be dangerous.

“I don’t think she scored against us but she took advantage of a mistake in our defense and made a move and then fed the ball to her teammate and all she had to do was tap the ball in,” Rivers said.

That Regan Shockey goal off Nunn’s assist proved the game winner in a 1-0 victory. In other words, if Nunn doesn’t make the play, South might lose the game. That’s just speculation.

But what doesn’t need second-guessing is the kind of effort she’s put in on the offensive end all year long for the Patriots. She’s smart and cognizant of the team that is around her. She’s well aware of the embarrassment of riches the Patriots have on offense, and she wants to get everyone involved.

Then again, she also knows when to take command. This past week against Cabell Midland, the team they will likely see in the regional final, she tallied a hat trick.

Can’t beat that.

Heck, she’s recorded 16 assists on the season to go along with her 25 goals, four of them of the game-winning variety. And some voters may not be swayed by her goal total. Some may look at Cabell Midland standout Olivia Charles’ numbers and see more goals and assists. Those two five-goal games against Riverside probably stand out. But, the only reason Nunn doesn’t have those sky-high numbers is because she’s busy directing the defense.

Yes, after scoring however many goals her team needs from her, she voluntarily switches to the other side of the field.

Think about that for a second or two.

Parkersburg South is a state championship contender, and thus largely unable to afford anyone not playing their best on any given night. The Patriots’ defense also is their bread and butter, so there can’t be any gaps in the attack. And there aren’t. Nunn’s just as accomplished playing defense as offense.

In fact, the unit doesn’t miss a beat and gets even better when she switches to taking on other people’s top players over the top. In 17 games, only two West Virginia teams have tallied goals after halftime against South, one each for Huntington and Morgantown.

Is that all on Nunn? Of course not. The Patriots’ defense didn’t allow a goal last season until the championship game, and much of it is back again. But, her ability to seamlessly blend in with her teammates sure isn’t something everyone is capable of doing. And seeing as South usually has the game wrapped up by halftime, with Nunn playing a big part in that, she’s essentially playing one half on offense and the other half on defense. Impressive, right?

“She’s pretty much the entire package. Forward, center mid, right field, on both sides … she can do it all,” Rivers said.

There you have it.

Of course, there’s plenty of soccer left to play. We stand games away from the postseason, but even there … Nunn’s not going to leave the spotlight. It’s going to keep shining on her. The sectional final against Hurricane and, if they win, the regional final against Cabell Midland, give plenty more chances for her to make a lasting impression.

There’s no doubt she will. It’s in her makeup to be a big-time athlete when she’s needed the most. And there really isn’t any other better time to show up than when you’re trying to help your team return to the state tournament in Beckley.

In short, vote Nunn for player of the year. Goodness knows, she’s earned it. Then there’s this …. “She’s just a great talent. You have to respect her presence on the field,” Rivers said.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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