Megan Hutto is a unique find on the soccer field and a joy to watch, according to Siloam Springs girls soccer coach Brent Crenshaw.
"Watching her," Crenshaw said, "I use her as an example to my boys sometimes. 'Watch how Megan turns and just beats players with her speed and her strength.' Those special players don't come very often, and it is fun to watch her."
2015^8^5^14-4^6A State Tournament MVP, All-Conference
2018^26^19^19-3-2^Signed with Northeastern State (Okla.)
Time is running out for Siloam Springs to enjoy the services of Hutto, something they've been able to do on the soccer field for the last four years.
Hutto, a senior forward, and the Lady Panthers (19-3-2) are bound for the Class 6A state tournament this week in Russellville in search of the program's fifth straight Class 6A title.
Hutto and her senior teammates have been part of the last three championships, and she's a bit overwhelmed with how quickly the end is approaching.
"It's all going so fast," said Hutto, who signed with Northeastern State (Okla.) in February. "I cannot believe how fast it's going. We only have (a few) more games. That's insane to me. I'm really shocked. My emotions are high right now because it's all going by so fast."
It seems just like yesterday that Hutto was a freshman trying to earn a position on an already talented Lady Panthers' squad in 2015.
With returning starters at several positions, Hutto tried out to play outside defensive back because it was one of only a couple of spots that didn't have a returning starter.
By the end of the year, then-coach Chuck Jones and his staff had moved Hutto forward into attack and she blossomed in the role.
Hutto scored a hat trick in a state tournament game against Texarkana and then two more in a semifinal win against Mountain Home. After Siloam Springs defeated Searcy in the state finals, Hutto was named the state tournament Most Valuable Player.
Hutto picked up where she left off as a sophomore in 2016, scoring seven goals and leading the team with 12 assists as the Lady Panthers won their third straight state title.
Last season, Hutto exploded for 25 goals and a school record 22 assists as the Lady Panthers went 24-3 overall and won their fourth straight state championship.
Hutto's banner year in 2017 would have been MVP-worthy had it not been for the performance of her teammate and close friend Audrey Maxwell, who scored a school record 42 goals along with 18 assists and was named girls soccer player of the year by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Adversity struck the Lady Panthers back in late January when Maxwell tore her ACL playing club ball and was lost for the season less than a month before the Lady Panthers were to begin their 2018 campaign.
Hutto knew then that she would have to take on more of a scoring role in the Siloam Springs offense with the loss of Maxwell. She moved from her more natural midfield position to forward at the front of the Lady Panthers' attack.
"It's a big role," Hutto said. "(Maxwell) was huge, so it's like there was a big hole there. It was tricky at first because we had to adjust."
Crenshaw knows those were big shoes to fill for Hutto as well.
"That's a lot of pressure on any 17-, 18-year-old kid," he said. "To come out and do, she's done a really good job for us, up top, finishing and being involved and not just scoring but look at her assists and how many times she's started our attack. She's done a good job. That's a lot of pressure to ask from a kid. There's a lot of times where she's isolated up there by herself. Then she just has to make things happen. I've seen her turn and take three players on and beat them. That's special."
On the season, Hutto leads the Lady Panthers with 26 goals and 19 assists, well on her way to another all-state season. Hutto was all-state as a sophomore and junior along with being named all-conference as a freshman.
In four years, she's scored 66 goals and totaled 59 assists while leading the Lady Panthers to a combined record of 70-18-6.
"I don't like to think about how I'm doing personally, but instead how I'm benefiting the team and what can I do to be better for the team," Hutto said. "What can I do to make everyone else connect more? I'm not really worried about the stats area. I'm just playing the game and living the senior year."
Crenshaw believes Hutto is the best soccer player in Class 6A and one of the best in Arkansas, period.
"Any matchup, we know she's going to win," Crenshaw said. "If it's a 1-v-1 battle, there's nobody in the state, except for that girl from Rogers (Skylurr Patrick), that can match up with her as a 1-v-1 player."
The Lady Panthers play their first state tournament game at 2 p.m. Friday at Cyclone Stadium in Russellville against the winner of Thursday's game between West No. 5 Russellville and East No. 4 Marion.
Hutto said the Lady Panthers have to be ready to go regardless of their opponent.
"I feel like we can beat pretty much anyone in 6A if we play our game," Hutto said. "We have to play our game, but if we just come out there and not even go hard at all we can be beat. Anybody can beat us."Sports on 05/09/2018
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