Pennington girls soccer star Morgan Kotch is our Prep and Area Player of the Year – Trentonian

Morgan Kotch didn’t set out to make history this season, but as the goals kept flowing, it became clear that nobody was going to stop her.

Just how good was the Pennington School girls soccer team’s junior star?

Kotch broke the program record for single-season goals that had stood for 38 years when she scored 40 times in 18 games as the Red Hawks went 17-0-1 and won the Mercer County Tournament and Prep A championships.

Kotch is our Prep and Area Player of the Year.

“To think about the Talent that has come through Pennington and all the history, it’s kind of crazy to me that I have the record now,” Kotch said shortly after she put her name atop the record book. “It was definitely on my mind, but it wasn’t my priority. Knowing that it was possible, I was going to try extra hard for it.”

The previous mark of 34 had been held by Heike Schneider since 1984. Schneider, now a Pediatric surgeon in her native Germany, arrived at Pennington for the fall 1983 semester as an exchange student, but liked it so much she convinced her family to let her return the next year. That’s when she set the record with 34 goals in 14 games as Pennington went 13-1 and won the Prep B state title.

“It’s one for the record books,” longtime Coach Dr. Bill Hawkey said. “You got into a season like this and you’re not thinking about a record, but you’re having the kind of season she is and now the record is Looming out there larger and larger. You’re putting pressure on yourself, you’re overthinking, you’re trying too hard and it can take you a little bit off your game.”

But that never seemed to be the case with Kotch.

She was just consistently outstanding every time she stepped on the field. It’s not like opponents weren’t trying to stop her. They man-marked her, bracketed her, tried to build a wall in front of her. None of it worked.

Kotch has a versatility to her game. She can pull out wide to unbalance a defensive formation if you try to man mark, or she can drop Deeper into midfield to turn and run at defenders.

“We know she’s not a one dimensional player,” Hawkey said. “She loves to win balls and take people on whether it’s on the wing and slotting it or coming through the middle. She’s a dangerous kid.”

Kotch will enter her senior season with 71 career goals — a number that would be much higher if her freshman campaign wasn’t limited to four games because of Covid — and the 100-goal milestone well within her view.

“I didn’t think she could get better, but every year she just does,” said teammate Hailey Adamsky, who joins Kotch on the All-Prep and All-Area First Teams. “It’s great to be alongside her for the journey. Being her best friend and all, it’s different on the soccer field. We get to share every moment together.”

The Red Hawks’ undefeated season was their first since the 2008 team went 18-0 and co-coaches Hawkey and Pat Murphy are our Prep Coaches of the Year.

Pennington put five players on the All-Prep First Team. Adamsky (9 goals, 11 assists) and the defensive three of Seniors Reagan Amberson (UT San Antonio) and Ava Brass (Rutgers) and junior Lina Ballmann all joined Player of the Year Kotch.

Hun Landed senior forward Riley Hayes (Bucknell) and junior midfielder Olivia Spektor on the team. Lawrenceville is represented by junior midfielder and top-scorer Maddie Brogan, Peddie by senior goalkeeper Alex Naidrich (Wesleyan) and Princeton Day by senior defender Kirsten Ruf (Rice) and junior midfielder Adriana Salzano (12 goals, 5 assists).

With one Player of the Year and an amazing record under her belt, could Kotch have another in store as an encore?

“That would be nice,” she said.


All-Prep Girls Soccer

First Team

Forward, Morgan Kotch, Jr., Pennington

Forward, Riley Hayes, Sr., Hun

Midfield, Hailey Adamsky, Jr., Pennington

Midfield, Maddie Brogan, Jr., Lawrenceville

Midfield, Adriana Salzano, Jr., PDS

Midfield, Olivia Spektor, Jr., Hun

Defense, Ava Brass, Sr., Pennington

Defense, Kirsten Ruf, Sr., PDS

Defense, Lina Ballmann, Jr., Pennington

Defense, Reagan Amberson, Sr., Pennington

Goalie, Alex Naidrich, Sr., Peddie

Player of the Year — Morgan Kotch, Pennington

Coach of the Year — Dr. Bill Hawkey and Pat Murphy

Honorable Mention

Lawrenceville: Kingsley Hughes (Jr.), Cameron Gabrielson (Jr.), Julia Chiang (Sr.); Hun: Zoey Palmer (Jr.), Tooni Olayele (Sr.); Peddie: Aubrey Shaulis (Fr.), Grace Giblin (Jr.), Shoshana Leeds (Sr.); Pennington: Laney Keith (Fr.), Sara Chrenlich (Fr.), Meg Balerna (So.), Olivia Davis (Jr.); Princeton Day: Ell McLaren (Fr.), Abby Weed (Jr.), Tochi Owunna (Jr.), Grace Romano (Sr.)

All-Area Girls Soccer

First Team

Forward, Morgan Kotch, Jr., Pennington

Forward, Adriana Ryder, Sr., Steinert

Forward, Bella Conti, Jr., Allentown

Midfield, Hailey Adamsky, Jr., Pennington

Midfield, Adriana Salzano, Jr., PDS

Midfield, Juliana Ryder, Sr., Steinert

Defense, Ava Brass, Sr., Pennington

Defense, Lina Ballmann, Jr., Pennington

Defense, Kirsten Ruf, Sr., PDS

Defense, Reagan Amberson, Sr., Pennington

Goalie, Lucy Fleming, Sr., Hopewell Valley

Player of the Year — Morgan Kotch, Pennington

Coach of the Year — Mike Hastings, Steinert

Second Team

Forward, Charlotte Garcia, Jr., Hightstown

Forward, Riley Hayes, Sr., Hun

Midfield, Maddie Brogan, Jr., Lawrenceville

Midfield, Olivia Spektor, Jr., Hun

Midfield, Samantha Allen, Jr., Allentown

Midfield, Kara Keating, Sr., Robbinsville

Midfield, Laney Keith, Fr., Pennington

Defense, Alyssa Hendricksen, Jr., Steinert

Defense, Tooni Olayele, Sr., Hun

Defense, Isabelle Knott, So., Allentown

Goalie, Ryan Keefe, Sr., Allentown

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