Brookwood’s Jenny Allen is the Daily Post’s girls soccer player of the year. (Staff Photo: Will Hammock)
The goal-setting began at last year’s Gwinnett Goal Club All-County Banquet.
Brookwood girls coach Jeff Becker suggested a 30-goal season be the target for Jenny Allen, who was at last year’s banquet celebrating 23 goals as a junior. She began this high school season, long after that conversation, with that goal in mind.
She finished her senior season with 40, just 12 off Natalie Daniel’s 1991 school record, to earn Daily Post girls player of the year honors.
“At first, I wanted wanted to reach (30) and make (Becker) proud,” Allen said. “I’m happy I did and was able to exceed it. It was a good season individually and as a team.”
More of the scoring load fell on Allen this season after the graduation of Kim Fincher, who led the Broncos with 25 goals last season. Without Fincher alongside her, more defensive attention came from the opposition, too.
But Allen had a huge senior season despite the extra coverage from defenders.
“Honestly I don’t know (why my goal total went up so much),” Allen said. “Last year me and Kim both split up the goals, so maybe that had something to do with it. Since she wasn’t there, maybe I felt like I had more responsibly to score. Because she wasn’t there, I guess I felt like I had to score twice as many goals. I don’t think I played that much better this year than last year. I just got more opportunities and took advantage of them.”
Many of those came at crucial times, the most important coming in a second-round playoff game against Region 5-AAAAAA champion Walton.
Down 1-0 late, the Broncos were in trouble against the home-standing Raiders, who have been notoriously strong at protecting leads over the years. But Allen scored on a header in the 70th minute to tie the score. With just 2:46 on the clock in regulation, Allen bent a shot from an impossible angle from the left side for the game-winner.
“I honestly don’t know how the second one went in,” Allen said. “I’ve watched the video so many times. I didn’t even have that good of a game (against Walton). That was my 40th goal. I was so happy. We were down and it felt good not to have to worry about PKs because I hate PKs. That will probably be one of my best memories of soccer.”
Brookwood’s season ended in the next round with a quarterfinal loss to eventual state champion Harrison, which also defeated Gwinnett and Region 8-AAAAAA powers Grayson and Parkview on the way to the title.
“Beyond her scoring prowess, (Allen) plays with a strength that is visible to anyone who has watched her,” Becker said. “In the Harrison game, she ran until she literally collapsed. Jenny defines what a leader on the field should be. Her heart beats for her team. After each of our losses this season, she apologized to the coaches because she felt like she let her teammates down. Although it was not hers to bear, she mentally shouldered the burden of our team’s success this year. Her qualities as a player and person, the passion, commitment, and strength, are what I will remember Jenny for.”
Both Allen and her twin sister Michelle, a Daily Post first-team all-county defender and the Broncos’ second-leading scorer this season with eight goals and six assists, will play college soccer at Armstrong Atlantic. They both hope to make an impact for a perennially strong NCAA Division II program, but they leave high school with plenty of great memories.
The twins have been around their high school community for years, watching their older sister Janine, a 2003 Brookwood grad, play countless basketball and softball games for the Broncos long before they were old enough to play high school sports themselves.
“It just meant a lot to play here,” Allen said. “This school has a good name for soccer. If you say you’re on the team, it means a lot. I’m just glad I could come here and make an impact. I loved playing all four years here.”