Junior led Mercer with 19 goals
High school soccer season reached its conclusion last week. Now, the awards are rolling in, recognizing the top players in the state.
Mercer County junior Abby Dean was named to the East All-State Second-Team by the Kentucky Girls Soccer Coaches Association (KGSCA) on Tuesday, Oct. 29.
Dean led the Lady Titans this season with 19 goals in 22 games played. She had four games where she scored multiple goals, including one hat trick against Anderson County in late September. While scoring all those goals, Dean also shared the wealth with six assists.
“Earning the all-state recognition was a great honor. Being named second-team all-state means I was selected by the coaches as one of the top 48 players in the state,” said Dean. “I have worked for years to get this position in my soccer career. After the list came out, I was thrilled to see my name alongside other great soccer players from around the state.”
Dean credits her success to her coaches over the years for Mercer County. Josh Culver, Doug McClain, Sam Travillian and Michael Grubbs have seen Dean grow throughout her youth years to where she is now.
“I have been surrounded by a group of phenomenal coaches for most of my career. Our program has been blessed with a great coaching staff,” said Dean. “These coaches have pushed me to improve my skills, fitness and my mental approach to the game. One of my favorite drills that Coach Culver practiced involved shooting. I think as a result of that drill, my shooting improved which enabled me to score 19 goals this season as a center midfielder.”
Culver talked about what impressed him most about Dean’s growth.
“There are many things that impress me about Abby in her development from her freshman year to now. It’s hard to focus on one thing. Her work ethic is phenomenal. She is the type of person to work as hard as she can for her team and expect nothing in return. This has been her since day one as a freshman,” he said. “Her skills on the ball continue to improve every year. Her knowledge of the game and how it’s played continues to grow. She consistently works hard from start to finish at practice and in games. She works with every teammate at practice which helps develop young players. She’s also very unselfish and has that winning drive to push herself through an entire game while playing at a high level. Abby does this on her own by holding herself to a higher standard with accountability.”
Culver said it was amazing to see Dean selected for the all-state team.
“I am very proud of her and the hard work she puts in year after year, which has helped her achieve this. She has the drive to be the best she can be and to push herself day in and day out. With this type of work ethic, attitude and being the teammate that she is, she has a bright future ahead of her in school and soccer. I can’t wait to see what she brings to the team as a senior next year.”
Dean said her love for the game came at a really early age, earlier than others.
“My parents tell me that they had only been home for two days after I was born before I was taken to my first soccer game. As I grew up, I attended numerous games and practices for my brothers,” she said.
Dean’s two older brothers, Garrett and Luke, also played soccer for Mercer County.
“It just felt natural to have a ball at my feet like them. My love just continued to grow from there. Soccer is a very competitive sport and I love competition,” she said. “When I was challenged to do juggling by my first select coach, I wasn’t very good. I didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t very good so I put my mind into getting better and went out in the yard and would practice juggling the ball for hours. Any obstacle that I came across, I attacked it in the same way with dedication and hard work. All of the extra time spent juggling, running and watching film springs from my love for the game.”
During the offseason, Dean plays for Lexington F.C., a local travel team based near Harrodsburg. She has been playing with the team since she was the age of nine. The team is made up of the best players in the central Kentucky area.
“We play in some of the best tournaments in the eastern part of the United States. Needless to say, the competition there is really high,” said Dean.
Club soccer season runs from November all the way to May, so there really isn’t an offseason. Lexington F.C. won the state cup in 2018.
“We are also lucky to have people that coach at elite high schools and local colleges,” she said. “Having a great coaching staff and playing at a high level makes me a better high school player.”
Dean is invited to play in the KGSCA East vs. West All-State Games on Saturday, Nov. 9 at Elizabethtown High School. The East first team will take on the second team at 3 p.m.