Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
All-Metro girls soccer player of the year: Lafayette's Howard was an offensive powerhouse despite best efforts of opponents
alert

All-Metro girls soccer player of the year: Lafayette's Howard was an offensive powerhouse despite best efforts of opponents

From the 2021 All-Metro girls soccer series
{{featured_button_text}}

After every soccer match, Rylee Howard looks down at both of her legs and smiles.

The Lafayette High junior is more than used to seeing cuts, scratches, cleat marks and various other battle scars.

Area girls soccer rankings, final

"Can't remember the last time I didn't have them," she said. "I don't mind. It's part of the game."

It's also part of being the most dangerous finisher in the state.

The Post-Dispatch All-Metro girls soccer player of the year, Howard is coming off a stellar campaign in which she scored 41 times and handed out 12 assists to help the Lancers reach the Class 4 sectional round. She recorded 11 multi-goal games, including a five-goal outburst and a pair of four-goal performances.

The 5-foot-4 speedball dominated matches from the beginning of the season to the end.

And she did so despite drawing major attention from all of her opponents.

That's where the cuts and bruises come into play. Most opponents used two and sometimes three or four players to follow her every move.

The intense marking could take its toll on most players.

Not Howard.

"It means that the other team was all over me and I take that as a compliment," she said. "That's kind of like a type of respect."

Lafayette vs. Eureka girls soccer

Lafayette's Rylee Howard (20) wins the headball over Eureka's Maison Smith during the Girls Class 4 District 4 championship soccer game on Thursday, May 20, 2021, at Lafayette High School in Ballwin, Mo. Randy Kemp | Special to STLhighschoolsports.com

It also means Howard had to work for each and every one of her tallies. The Lancers, who finished 18-6, played a tough schedule and were placed in a loaded district.

Lafayette had very few blowout wins due to its rugged slate.

"She earned every single goal," Lafayette coach Melissa Schroeder said. "Nothing was easy because of all the attention she drew. Physically, it was tough day in and day out. She just took it and responded by continuing to score and continuing to make plays."

Howard said it has been years since she was allowed any space on the field. She faced a four-pack of defenders in a pair of matches against Eureka this season, yet she remained a major force up top.

Still, all of that extra attention can be excruciating.

"It's more exhausting mentally because it gets you so frustrated," Howard said. "Things may not be going your way. You just have to push through it."

Rylee Howard, Lafayette

Lafayette junior Rylee Howard is the Post-Dispatch All-Metro girls soccer player of the year. She scored 41 goals and had 12 assists as the Lancers reached the Class 4 sectional round. Randy Kemp | Special to STLhighschoolsports.com

Although she has the marks to display the blows she has taken, Howard remained calm and cool under the physical pressure.

She did not receive a single yellow card this past season, even though she was tempted to cut loose with a push or two.

"Sometimes, I feel like getting even," she said. "But that's not going to help the team. The best way is to keep scoring."

No matter what other teams try to do, Howard simply goes about her business and gets the job done. Schroeder says the key to Howard's success lies in her strong work ethic. She goes to the gym on a regular basis and is rarely without a soccer ball at her feet.

"There's no one that has made a more personal commitment to get better," Schroeder said.

Explained Lafayette senior teammate Brynn Jeffries, “Watching how hard she worked made the rest of us work harder, too."

Howard, who had 30 goals and 10 assists as a freshman in 2019, recently was selected as the Gatorade player of the year in Missouri.

She has given a verbal commitment to attended the University of Wisconsin, a Big 10 Conference school that traditionally is ranked in the top 25.

Howard possesses lightning-quick speed, especially when on the attack

"How fast she moves with the ball, it’s insane,” Jeffries said. “Her foot skills are so amazing.”

Rylee Howard, Lafayette

Lafayette junior Rylee Howard is the Post-Dispatch All-Metro girls soccer player of the year. She scored 41 goals and had 12 assists as the Lancers reached the Class 4 sectional round. Randy Kemp | Special to STLhighschoolsports.com

Howard has the ability to take over a match at a moment's notice.

Her biggest tally of the season came against Marquette in a district semifinal. With the season on the brink, she scored from long range with 40 seconds left to send the contest into overtime. Lafayette then won 3-2 on a golden goal by freshman Emily Derucki.

Howard loves to play in cold weather, which played a role in her decision to go to Wisconsin.

But for now, she is looking forward to continuing her training with an eye on a final four berth for the Lancers next season.

"I just want to get to be the best I can," she said. "I'm not there yet. It’s going to take a lot more work.”

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Trending

Blues News

Breaking News

Cardinals News

Daily 6

National Breaking News

Sports