Elisabeth Jacob leads way for Wilton-Lyndeborough soccer squad
It all began several years ago at the indoor sports center of the Souhegan Valley, Milford’s Hampshire Dome.
Little did anyone know that when Elisabeth Jacob’s parents signed her up when she was 5 years old for a preschool indoor soccer program at the popular facility that a budding future Wilton-Lyndeborough High School star was being born.
“I don’t remember my first soccer game,” Jacob said, “but the first team I played for was called the ‘Piglets.'”
And she went from being a “Piglet” to a Warrior.
Jacob is only a junior at WLC, but she has become a scoring sensation. Earlier this month, she became what the Warrior soccer people are saying is the first player to ever reach the career 100-point plateau. She has over 20 goals this season in which her team has played just eight games.
Last year, she had a breakout season as a sophomore with 37 goals and 12 assists. She even made an impact right away as a freshman with 17 goals and 16 assists.
“This (reaching 100 career points as a junior) is an incredible achievement,” her coach, Dan Ayotte, said, “for a very talented player.”
And talented Jacob is. As well as focused on the game.
“I was fortunate enough to start coaching Elisabeth two years ago when I first became the Wilton coach and she was entering her freshman year,” Ayotte said. “In my 20 years of coaching soccer, in all age groups and levels, I have only come across a few players that are as dedicated to their sport as Elisabeth.”
Jacob doesn’t take her individual accomplishment lightly.
“I feel honored to have reached the 100 point plateau, as this is a feat that not all players have the opportunity to reach during their high school careers,” Jacob said. “It has been quite an honor to be recognized by both WLC and the community. I feel that it’s an accomplishment to be the first player, female or male, to reach this milestone at WLC.
“I never expected to reach this milestone. My main goal is for our team to have a successful season.”
Of course it didn’t happen overnight. Jacob followed the natural course of development with her game through youth soccer and club programs.
Back to those youth days – when she was in the third grade, she began playing competitive club soccer.
Since then, she’s played for various club teams in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She currently plays for FC Stars, a program in northern Mass.
In other words, she’s a dedicated soccer player, and she has a local legend as a source of inspiration – former Milford and USC standout and current professional soccer player Morgan Andrews. Not a bad example to follow, right?
“I think Morgan Andrews has been an inspiration for many girls in this area,” Jacob said. “I try to follow her team whenever I have the opportunity.
“Soccer is definitely my favorite sport to play and watch. I enjoy watching the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and the National Women’s Soccer League.”
Jacob says she doesn’t feel like her success has come instantly or naturally.
“I wouldn’t say that scoring goals comes naturally to me,” she said. “I feel it’s my work ethic that has helped me improve my shot.
“Outside of high school soccer, I play club year around and spend a considerable amount of time training on my own. I am always working on improving my skills and scoring abilities.”
“She continually tries to improve her game,” Ayotte said. “With her talent she is constantly the focus of the other coaches and is consistently double or triple teamed, but her strength, footwork and drive continually has her finding the back of the net.”
Ayotte saw the talent and made sure that the Wilton staff would try to enhance it. So far, so good. Plus, that improvement has spread to Jacob’s teammates.
“We have worked hard over the last three seasons to not only have her improve her game, but those of the players around her which she has improved on greatly,” Ayotte said. “She rarely misses a practice or game and always shows up eager to learn and work hard.”
There’s one area where Jacob would like to get even better.
“I’d like to improve my accuracy and power with my left foot on distance shots,” she said. “This is a skill that I have been working on this season.”
But the word has been out about Jacob for awhile, and she knows she’s getting special attention from opposing teams. In fact, she’s used to it.
“I do find that other teams often give me a lot of special defensive attention,” she said. “For the past two seasons, I have been double and sometimes triple teamed for many games.
“It can be frustrating to be marked all the time and can get especially physical inside of the 18. However, this does leave other teammates open for passing options.”
And pass it she will, which has led to the 100 points. Of course, the argument might be that Jacob has been playing against inferior talent in Division IV. But thanks to the regional scheduling during the abbreviated pandemic season, the Warriors have played some schools a division up, and Jacob has more than held her own.
“Having the opportunity to play some teams in different divisions this season due to COVID showed me that her talent goes well beyond a D4 (Division IV) team,” Ayotte said. “I feel grateful to have her for one more season after this one.”
And Jacob was thrilled that she has gotten to have a junior season that continues this week with the open state tournament. WLC begins the open Division IV tournament with a play-in game at home vs. Newport on Tuesday. All the pairings were done by a blind draw.
“I feel very fortunate that we were able to have a soccer season this year,” she said. “I’m grateful for our administration, athletic director, and coaches for making this season happen.”
And it’s a season the Warriors are taking seriously, and Jacob would love to see her own goals help her and the Warriors reach the ultimate goal.
“My teammates and I would love to win a state championship,” Jacob said. “I think it is every high school athlete’s dream to be part of a state championship team.
“We have made it to the playoffs the past two years and hope to be a strong contender again this year. Hopefully playing against Division 1 and Division 3 schools this season will prepare us for a competitive postseason run.”
Only a junior, Jacob has plenty of time to look ahead to her soccer future, which obviously would be in college.
“I haven’t begun the college search process yet, but would love the opportunity to play soccer at the college level,” she said. “I’d like to attend college locally in New England.”
And if she does that, it won’t be just to play soccer as she plans on studying math and engineering.
She’s not just all about soccer. Jacob says that some of her non-sports interests include mountain biking, swimming, hiking, and art. She also enjoys traveling to various destinations around New England with her family, and loves getting away to the seacoast and White Mountains.
And when it’s time for the outdoor soccer season to end, Jacob knows it’s not the end of soccer for the year. Hardly. That’s when the hard, important work begins.
“Good soccer players and goal scorers need to be dedicated and demonstrate a high work ethic during the off-season,” she said. “They need to be willing to put in extra hours to improve all aspects of their game.”
But there’s one more key ingredient to success, perhaps the most important in Jacob’s mind.
“Above all,” she said, “they should have fun and enjoy playing the game of soccer.”
Now you see how Elisabeth Jacob has made the successful transition from Piglet to Warrior.