The relief on Aislinn Hughes’ face was evident.
The McPherson High senior can now enter her final soccer season for the Bullpups this spring with the satisfaction of knowing her future college destination and not have to worry about the recruiting process while her team makes a run at a state title.
Hughes on Wednesday signed an NCAA Division II soccer letter of intent with Emporia State and is now stress-free to build on one of the most impressive resumes in school history.
“It’s a great relief,” Hughes said. “Now I can finally focus on having fun with my team and working hard to get that (state) championship we’ve been wanting to get since our freshman year.”
Hughes could have gone a number of places, but Emporia State just seemed to be the right fit.
“Honestly I think it was the coach (Bryan Sailer), he talked with passion and has so much faith in his team,” she said. “That sold it for me. As a player I’m really passionate about the team and having someone match my feelings toward the game was super awesome.”
Emporia State was 8-9-2 last season and Hughes will give the Hornets an immediate threat as she has tremendous speed and ball skills.
Hughes was an immediate hit for the Bullpups her freshman year as she scored 15 goals and had 5 assists while being the AVCTL MVP and was second-team All-State.
She torched the pipes for 22 goals and 9 assists her sophomore year, again being the league MVP and making first-team All-State.
The goals were down her junior year, 17, but her assists were way up as she turned facilitator with 18. Again, she was first-team All-State and All-League, but somehow wasn’t the MVP.
“Aislinn has accomplished so much in her three years of playing and I anticipate even greater things from her this year knowing how hard she has been working in the offseason,” MHS coach Chris Adrian said. “She’s a two-time league MVP and should have been last year again, but I think some coaches were just tired of seeing her win it. The thing that often gets overlooked with Aislinn is what she does for the team other than scoring goals. She is unselfish and is always looking to get her teammates involved.”
Adrian said her game evolved last year as she became a complete player.
“Last year’s stats provide a great example of what I’m talking about, she led the team in goals and yet still found a way go give out 18 assists,” he said. “She’s a fantastic leader and teammate and I have no doubt that she is going to excel at the next level. Aislinn has received just about every individual award out there, but knowing her she'd trade that all for a first McPherson girls state soccer championship which she’s got her sights set on this year.”
Hughes was an all-around athlete in her earlier years. She was a tremendous sprinter in middle school and also was a volleyball standout. But she picked soccer and she’s glad she did.
“The funny thing is, my parents when I was younger put me in a bunch of sports, but soccer was the only one I picked myself,” she said. “Honestly I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was running around with my friends and just doing my thing.”
Hughes thought about doubling in track during the spring, but with a state championship a possibility, she said he wanted to focus totally on soccer.
She will major in biology.