It would be difficult to watch a Bloom-Carroll girls soccer game without noticing Maggie Loeffler -- and not because she stands about 6 feet tall.
Height helps, but Loeffler's speed and skill on the field are what had opposing coaches, college coaches and even some officials asking Bulldogs coach Mark Casperson about his junior defender at almost every game this fall.
"She just reads the game so well," he said. "With her speed and size, she's able to cover so much ground. The combination of her skill, height and speed is unheard of."
As a defender, Loeffler led a unit that shut out every Mid-State League-Buckeye Division opponent and allowed only seven regular-season goals in 16 games. Loeffler was voted MSL-Buckeye Player of the Year, was a first team All-Central District selection, and is the Eagle-Gazette's 2012 girls soccer Player of the Year.
Loeffler anchored the Bulldogs' defense all season. She was capable of doing anything the team needed her to do. She shut down attackers and protected her goalkeeper.
When a ball needed to be cleared from the Bulldogs' zone, Loeffler could kick it far down the field with one touch or gather it and dribble to midfield herself. Loeffler has the speed to run around opponents , and she towers over many of them.
"I can see the entire field, and I understand the game a lot," Loeffler said. "I'm able to direct my teammates. A big thing that our team does is communicate."
Defense always has appealed to Loeffler, who began playing the position at the youth level and stayed with it. Her prowess has come as a relief to Casperson, as he has few worries about his team's defensive abilities.
"I feel so comfortable with her back there," Casperson said.
When Casperson started at Bloom-Carroll three seasons ago, Loeffler was a promising but raw freshman. Loeffler only could juggle a ball three times at the start of that year, and Casperson raved about Loeffler's work ethic to improve her skills during the past three years. Loeffler now can juggle a ball more than 400 times.
It's not just about Loeffler's athleticism, Casperson said, it's her dedication to improve that has helped her evolve as a player.
"I work every single opportunity I can because I know it's going to come back," Loeffler said. "Everyone says hard work is going to come back, and I know it will. So why not work? I like to take every opportunity I can to get better."
The Bulldogs' dominance of the MSL-Buckeye was evident from the start. Loeffler led the way as the Bulldogs piled up 13 shutouts.
Despite the Bulldogs' first-round loss in the Division II district tournament, Loeffler still takes pride in the accomplishments of her team . The Bulldogs won the first outright MSL-Buckeye title in school history, and the conference-wide shutout streak was of great appeal to Loeffler.
"I enjoy saying that," Loeffler said. "(As a defender), you can't say 'I scored this many,' so it is something you can say. We have a shut out in the MSL."