Dawson School's Hannah Isenhart was thrown into the spotlight and is basking in it. She is an anchor of a leader in an otherwise young Mustangs team which starts six freshmen.
"This season, we have a really young team, so all of us are working super hard," Isenhart said. "I never really stop working with soccer."
The senior is seventh in the state with 50 points (third in Class 2A), and 14th in goals with 19 (second in 2A). Isenhart's 6.3 points and 2.4 goals per game (both lead 2A) is an incredibly hot start, but a sickness forced her to play limited minutes in the loss to No. 2 Denver Christian last Thursday.
"I don't give up easily," Isenhart said. "That's another reason why sitting out was so hard. I did not want to stop playing. I don't give up. I really try to lead the team into the same headspace that we're not going to give up."
Isenhart has played, on average, two less games than the stat leaders.
"Hannah is just getting better. She's developed this year i think into a better, more well-rounded player," Dawson School coach John Siegrist said. "She's incredibly fast, she's faster than she was last year, her ball control is better, but I think more than anything, what we've noticed is her field vision is really good, especially this year."
In the first seven games before Denver Christian, Dawson outscored opponents 55-6. Against Denver Christian, Dawson was outscored 5-0.
"The refreshing thing about Hannah is that she's very adaptable and she listens. You can put her anywhere on the field and she'll adapt to it and play well," Siegrist said. "She's a great captain, a great leader, good kid, good student."
The impact that Isenhart has for Dawson School is most evident in the aforementioned stat line.
"She's just solid," Siegrist said. "She doesn't get riled up about stuff, she's got a calm demeanor, she's not selfish. That's huge for us to have that player that is in the midfield that isn't selfish and can distribute the ball well."
But, Isenhart's impact spans further than stats; it's the intangibles where she truly makes a difference.
"Her ability to work with the younger players that we have," Siegrist said. "Having them jump right in, Hannah is a huge impact player for us. She's distributing the ball super well.
"She has an incredible work ethic. That makes coaching easier because you have a kid that comes out and gets right on it. I get out to practice and they're already started. That tone is set by Hannah. When we need help, she's the go to."
Isenhart's leadership is working as the Mustangs are 8-1 so far.
"You can tell by the way she approaches the game," Siegrist said. "It seems like sometimes I don't need to speak to the kids, Hannah brings them in and gets them going and rolling."
And what may have set this in motion is Isenhart's commitment to Tufts University. The recruiting process can be a looming cloud over an athlete's head that affects play and creates distraction.
"I think that since she's made that commitment to Tufts, that's behind her," Siegrist said. "She has that taken care of. It's a weight lifted off her shoulders. She comes to practice with a smile on her face. She's enjoying this, she's not uptight at all."
She is enjoying the success and relishing in her last season at Dawson. She is the reigning 2A player of the year.
"I just try to play my game and not let anything else get in my head," Isenhart said.
Those losses stay in Isenhart's memory as motivation.
"It's been a lot of motivation," Isenhart said. "I think the people that have been there for the last two times that we made it to state, or even just last year, we're pretty frustrated with the results. We want this to be our year."
The roadblock of two years was cleared, which leaves the Mustangs in an opportune spot.
"We're working hard every single practice to mesh together," Isenhart said. "It keeps progressing. Everyone is really excited, and when we start picking up speed, we all are rallying behind the idea of a state championship win and all want to work hard towards that.
"I hope that if we get there this year that it won't be the same result. Third time is the charm."
"She's an easy kid to get along with. This group of kids that I have get's along well," Siegrist said. "The chemistry is very good, and that's why I think there's a potential for this group to go far. It's a balanced team, they get along well, they're willing to work hard."
Just as Isenhart continues to get better, she sets the tone throughout the program.
"She's the first one out on the field and last one off the field," Siegrist said. "She doesn't take anything for granted. She feels fortunate to play for Dawson and she takes pride in that."