Player of the Week: Rachel Walker

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2010

With respect to all of the great performances by Marengo County athletes this week — and there are many — the Player of the Week award cannot go to anyone other than Demopolis High School senior Rachel Walker.

While it is impressive enough that Walker is one of two females starting on a Class 5A boys soccer team, the long-time Demopolis goal keeper played the game of her life Tuesday night against John Carroll, widely considered the best team in the state for the last several years.

Demopolis has grown accustomed to getting beaten 10-0 by Carroll over the years. But Tuesday was a different story. In many instances, Walker looked to be on an entirely different plane. Her play backed up an incredible defensive effort, but it was Walker who drew the praise of John Carroll head coach David Dipiazza, who credited her as being one of the best keepers his team will face all season.

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Walker has long been appreciated by teammates for her willingness to challenge larger, faster athletes and get down in the grass to make saves. But that penchant for getting dirty was on full display Tuesday as Walker made a handful of diving stops. One such save came late in the second half. Diving across the face of the goal, Walker stretched out parallel to the ground and managed to get her fingertips extended far enough to deflect the ball out of bounds, preventing what appeared destined to be a goal and keeping the game at 3-0.

Yes. It will go down in the books as a loss to John Carroll. But for a team just five years into its existence and looking to make the playoffs for the first time in program history, holding a juggernaut to a three-goal win is among the greatest of moral victories.

And Walker, her strong play and her 18 saves are a big reason why Demopolis has renewed vigor despite taking its second area loss.