Elyria Catholic center midfielder Jenna Ellingson has accomplished more in two years of high school than most student-athletes do in four.
Not only has she been the leading goal scorer on the only two district championship girls soccer teams in Panthers history, she’s also a top performer in the classroom where, thanks to a steady diet of honors courses, she sports a
4.2 grade-point average.
The Lorain resident is hopeful, though, that the best is yet to come.
“I feel like I’m ready for this season but I always need to keep getting better,” Ellingson said. “I’m not as good as I can be right now.”
While the thought of a new and improved Jenna Ellingson dominating soccer fields across Northeastern Ohio just might be an opposing coach’s worst nightmare, it brings a smile to the face of Elyria Catholic coach Tony Rozanc.
“Since Jenna came here her freshman year she’s been the most dynamic player on the team, especially on offense,” Rozanc said. “She runs the center of the field better than anyone else. Since she stepped on the field freshman year she has taken every penalty kick for us and she’s never missed.”
It was during her freshman season that Ellingson found herself in the spotlight for the first time, scoring on a header in overtime as Elyria Catholic defeated Cuyahoga Heights 1-0 in the district semifinal at Knights of Columbus Field.
“That was really exciting,” she said. “As a freshman, that was just the most incredible feeling.”
While Ellingson would be happy to have the chance to be the hero again, she’s just as content to let her teammates share the glory.
“I’ve already had that experience so I would really rather see it happen to someone else the next time.” She said. “The only important thing for me is to see us win as a team.”
After racking up 15 goals and eight assists as a freshman, Ellingson had 15 goals and 12 assists last year, despite being slowed by a concussion suffered during the club soccer season. She got this season off to a good start with a goal and two assists in the Panthers’ 4-0 season-opening win at Lutheran West.
“Our offense goes though Jenna,” Rozanc said. “She knows where everyone is — or where they should be — and she has excellent vision on the field. Jenna has great anticipation, she puts balls right where teammates need them to be and she’s always encouraging everybody, even when’s she not on the field. She’s become a true leader in every sense of the word.”
When it came time for Ellingson to choose a high school, Elyria Catholic was an obvious choice. She went to nearby St. Jude’s grade school and her brother Doug was a senior on the Panthers soccer team during her freshman year.
“I just love the atmosphere at Elyria Catholic,” she said. “Our team has such great chemistry and everyone gets along. When we have home games it’s awesome. Your friends come to the game, the whole student section is there. The teachers come to support you. It’s really a great atmosphere. When I look up and see a lot of people in the stands it always gets me pumped.”
After losing to Laurel School in the regional semifinals in 2011, Elyria Catholic was just one match away from a trip to the state tournament last season before losing 4-1 to Hawken in the regional final.
Ellingson thinks her team is ready to take the next step this season.
“The whole team worked hard in the offseason and is ready to do whatever it takes this year,” she said. “We just have to keep calm under pressure and play our style of play and not switch things up too much. I think we could go all the way. We have the talent to win states.”
With her full focus on her studies and the soccer season, Ellingson hasn’t had much time to think about her future. She hasn’t narrowed her college choices yet, although she has looked at Kent State. And she hasn’t decided if she wants to continue her soccer career beyond high school or focus on academic pursuits.
“From the time she came in a freshman I knew she was a special player,” Rozanc said. “She’s an exceptionally hard worker and she’s driven to succeed. I fully expect she could score 20 goals for us this season. She can be successful in anything she puts her mind to. She cares about school as much as she cares about soccer. She’s a great role model for the younger girls in our program.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.