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ELKHORN — Skylar. When coaches sent in their all-state soccer forms listing the players they thought were the best in the state this season, that’s all that a few coaches wrote, like Skylar was LeBron, or Adele, or something.

Skylar is Skylar Heinrich, a junior at Elkhorn High School, and as the first-name-only listing would indicate, most people involved with high school soccer have heard of her.

She burst on the scene in 2016, scoring 33 goals and being a rare freshman to earn first-team Super-State honors. But now she’s leaving us sooner than most would want. After scoring 102 goals in three years, she’s played her final high school match. Heinrich will graduate from high school in December and enroll at Creighton, skipping her senior soccer season and getting a start on college classes and soccer training.

And while there have been great goal scorers as recently as last season, when Lincoln Southwest’s Hannah Davis ended a 117-goal prep career, what wowed you with Heinrich was her speed, and then scoring the goal. She has track speed, long-distance endurance and elite soccer skills, a combination that left many opponents shaking their heads as they left the stadium.

Heinrich is the honorary captain of the Lincoln Journal Star Super-State soccer team. The boys captain is high-scoring Omaha Westside midfielder Peter Novoa.

Elkhorn coach Troy Stoller hadn’t seen Heinrich play before high school, but her older sister, Sydney, played at Elkhorn and had been telling him about her.

“Sydney kept saying, ‘Oh, wait until next year, my sister is really good,’” Stoller said. “And then I saw Skylar her freshman year and basically thought, ‘Holy cow, she’s legit.’ I remember that first week of tryouts we were indoors and just the quickness, it was quickness I hadn’t seen ever.”

Heinrich scored 33 goals as a freshman, and then 38 as a sophomore. She scored just 31 this year, but it came with the best result: Elkhorn won the Class B state championship, with Heinrich scoring both goals in the championship match.

She could have scored more. Stoller wouldn’t let her keep firing in goals against lesser competition. Once she scored four goals in seven minutes to start a match, and then her day was done.

Waverly coach Joel Fritz got to see Heinrich play a few times each season. As good as she was during her first two years of high school, Fritz didn’t think you’d be able to notice her still improving, but he did this year.

“I think honestly with the ball at her feet she’s one of those players who doesn’t lose any speed at all,” Fritz said. “Most kids when they get the ball at their feet they slow down a little bit, but she’s able to keep that same pace up. And then the thing that makes her super-dangerous is she’s able to finish with her right and her left foot.”

Fred Doscher coaches the boys soccer team at Elkhorn. He got to watch Heinrich play a few times each season, and then usually watched her play when he helped at the state soccer tournament.

“I’ve been around a lot of athletes, girls and boys, and I’ve never seen a player in any sport accelerate like she does,” Doscher said. “Her ability to get to top speed so quick and keep that ball at her feet is unlike anything I’ve really seen, and I’ve been coaching soccer for 23 years. I even went to the Women’s World Cup in Winnipeg and watched those girls, and obviously they’re all great, but I even saw some things from Skylar that I don’t think that I saw when I was at the World Cup.”

Doscher has thought about what it would be like if Heinrich played in a boys match. Doscher thinks it would depend on the teams, and how big and physical the players were, but he thinks Heinrich could still get off shots.

“She’s got the skill set where I believe if she played in a varsity game, you’d still notice her,” Doscher said.

Doscher had Heinrich in class, and he says you’d never know she’s the success she is.

“She is the most humble, nice, polite, respectful person,” he said. “A lot of times when people are that good, you don’t see that.”

She’s fast, but Heinrich thinks speed is only useful in soccer if you can get a defender off balance, and then use that speed.

“Usually everybody always knew me for my speed, but that only took me so far in soccer, until I had to start getting actual skills,” Heinrich said. “So I’ve just been working on those since then because everybody gets faster. I just was faster earlier.”

Heinrich has the work ethic to match her talent. Stoller tells the story about how the team had a big match on a Monday, so he told the team to rest on Sunday. Then another player told him she’d seen Heinrich at the football field that day doing a conditioning drill where you flip car tires.

“I called her out on it,” Stoller said. “She said something about strengthening her legs, and I was like, ‘All right, good for you.’ Here she is flipping tires. She’s special. She’s just not done yet. She’s the best player I’ve ever seen, and she’s still hungry for more.”

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.

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Sports reporter

Brent has worked at the Journal Star for 14 years. His beats include Nebraska volleyball, women's basketball and high school soccer and cross country.

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