Magnolia’s Ellis starring at new old position
Magnolia girls soccer coach April Cleveland didn’t have to look far to replace first team and MVP Montgomery County goalkeeper Taylor Sanderson.
She took a key part of her team’s offense to lead her defense.
In the middle of the posts this season is senior Maddie Ellis, who moved from playing forward.
But Ellis, a second-team all-district forward last season, is no stranger to making stops and making shots on goal. She plays goalie for her club team the Houston Dash and will attend Southern Miss to play the position.
What might be a tough adjustment for almost any other forward has been a smooth one for Ellis, who averages 15 saves per game for the 2-1 Bulldogs.
“It’s been an easy transition,” Ellis said. “I’ve played goalie almost my whole life and that’s what I’m going to college for. It’s not a shock. He is comfortable with this team. The only thing that’s different is playing goalie with different people, but I’ve been playing with these girls for the last two years. It’s very easy to relate to them.”
A short-handed Magnolia team failed to deliver a birthday win for Ellis on Saturday afternoon, but the celebratory candy and singing after a 1-0 loss to Summer Creek at Summer Creek High School may have been admirable for Ellis, too. effort this year.
“Maddie is leading the team,” Cleveland said. “She is a captain. She does a great job of saving. She is wonderful to us. You can see her confidence. You can tell she’s at home when she’s at the gate.”
Ellis played forward the past two years with Sanderson in net. She thrived there too.
Ellis scored in the regional tournament last spring to help lead Magnolia to the state tournament, where it lost in the semifinals. But she was excited when it was her turn to take over as goalie after Sanderson left for Houston Christian University.
“I was sad because it was the end of my career as a striker, but it’s fun to do something different,” Ellis said. “It’s nice to be able to show off what I’m really good at.”
Ellis is powerful in the air and plays well in one-on-one situations. Faith is her best friend.
She had 20 saves in the loss to Summer Creek. Still, she wanted to come back, but she was the one that went away – a buzzer-beating rebound near the net that a Summer Creek player ran over in the 38th minute after Ellis made a diving save.
“It was a tough game,” said Ellis, who has allowed one goal and posted two shutouts in three games. “Unfortunate. I had the reception before this, and sometimes it gets lost where the ball is. I couldn’t see where the ball was, and it was just unlucky that we couldn’t clear it.”
Because it wasn’t at full strength, Cleveland used players at various positions throughout the Summer Creek game.
Senior Rylee Pierce thrived no matter where she was placed. Senior Samantha Guidie was influential playing four different positions.
Senior quarterback Kaitlyn Myers has been a calming presence in high-pressure situations. Junior Hadley Kelly has taken Ellis’ place on offense with junior Ellie Ketzner.
“I think it’s good to experience that now in a tournament before district starts,” Cleveland said. “We moved some people to experience new positions and we will learn from them. We will build from each game. Players must prove where they will play. I think it’s exciting.”