Amanda Grant has played soccer for about a decade, and for the vast majority of that time, she been a forward — and a goal scorer.
"Except for like my first year, when they made me a goakeeper," Grant said. "That didn't go as well. They realized I could finish pretty early, so I've always been up top."
Grant is a freshman on the Morris varsity girls soccer team, but she is already up top on the team's list of goal scorers. Through eight matches, her 10 goals are easily a team high. She already has a four-goal effort, April 1 at Princeton, to her credit. Grant also has two assists.
"Scoring is in her nature," Morris coach Kristen Porter said. "Her footwork is very advanced for her age, and she's so aggressive. She goes right to the net, without fear, and already has the ability to find the corners."
At around the age of 5, Grant started playing in the MSA. She stayed with the organization until her father formed a club program, Morris Select, when Grant was in fourth grade. It lasted for just one year, at which point Grant joined the Plainfield Soccer Association's Legends program. The Legends merged with the Chicago Fire in 2012 and became the Chicago Fire Juniors West. Grant most recently played with the CFJW U15 Girls Red-Rosen team.
"I mean, I don't know if I would say scoring comes naturally to me, but I've been told that I'm a natural scorer," Grant said. "Over the years, I've been able to learn tricks and skills on the teams I've been on that have improved my game tremendously."
With her Chicago Fire team, Grant played in the Disney Soccer Showcase at Walt Disney World over the 2012-13 winter break.
"We played against teams from Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida — all over," Grant said. "We didn't do too well. We tied with the team that finished in first place, but other than that we didn't do too much. ... But it was really fun and a cool experience."
Weeks later, Grant tried out for high school soccer for the first time.
"I wouldn't say I was expecting to make the varsity, but I knew we would have a young team and that I might have a chance," she said.
Porter says Grant's preseason play made the decision to promote her an easy one.
"Being a first-year coach myself, I didn't know exactly what to expect," Porter said. "Right off the bat, she made it clear what she could do. We were stuck inside for about three weeks practicing due to the weather. Even there you could tell she was a player. I knew pretty early we would want to have her up."
In spite of Grant's goal total, she says that playing at the varsity level as a freshman is difficult.
"Most of the girls are taller and thicker than I am," Grant said. "There are seniors who are a lot bigger than I am and who have been doing it for a lot longer."
And Grant acknowledges that defenses are playing her differently now than they were at the beginning of the season.
"There's definitely a lot more double teaming," she said. "They're doing their best to not let me get in a position where I can finish."