Former Perrysburg soccer player Maddy Williams shined at Purdue and is now headed overseas to begin a pro soccer career.
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Perrysburg phenom Maddy Williams designed the perfect blueprint to become the best women's soccer player in the Big Ten.
But the plan was far from easy to execute for Williams, who ultimately etched her name in the record books at Purdue University.
The 2013 Perrysburg High School graduate led the Yellow Jackets to the 2012 state championship. Williams then overcame an injury to complete a stellar college career as the Boilermakers' all-time leader in goals scored (38), assists (26), and points (102).
Williams capped her career last fall by being named the Big Ten Forward of the Year.
The Perrysburg native is not done — she signed earlier this month to play professional soccer in the Netherlands.
“I realized if I put in the extra work on top of having my skill, I was going to have a heck of a [career],” Williams said. “I realized I had a passion for it when I was in middle school. That was also the time I had to begin to make sacrifices that other players were not making. Once I decided to make sacrifices on a daily basis and it became a routine, I realized I was a lot more invested than others and I would be until the day I decide to retire.”
That retirement has been pushed back thanks to Williams persevering through adversity, which included a devastating knee injury going into her senior season. She also avoided complacency while putting in the gritty, extra work behind the scenes, and learned to use her self-confidence as a weapon.
Williams earned second-team All-American honors after leading the Big Ten with 14 goals and 36 points in 2017. The dynamic forward will continue her career with the Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
“There were many European clubs I was interested in, and that were interested in me,” Williams said. “PSV seemed to be missing the final piece, which was scoring goals, and that happens to be my specialty.”
Perrysburg's Maddy Williams moves the ball against Medina during her high school career as a Yellow Jacket. Williams scored a program-record 48 goals for the 2012 state champions.
Williams displayed her goal-scoring touch at Perrysburg, when she led the Yellow Jackets to a 23-0-0 record as a senior. Williams scored a program-record 48 goals that season, and Perrysburg became the first girls program from northwest Ohio to win a state title.
“Maddy put northwest Ohio girls soccer on the map,” Perrysburg coach Jorge Diaz said. “The term 'champion' comes to mind all the time when I think of Maddy.”
Diaz said Williams' top qualities are her drive to be the best and her determination.
“She does so many things when no one is looking,” Diaz said. “She gets up early to workout. She is practicing her craft all the time. She knows what it takes to be the best and puts the necessary work to get there.”
Williams said missing high school dances and sleepovers all became worth it when she scored the only goal in the Division I state title game in 2012 as Perrysburg defeated Mason by a 1-0 score.
Margaret Bernard, who was the team's co-coach at the time, said Williams combined her talent with an incredible work ethic.
“Maddy consistently put in additional practice and training time on her own so that she can be the best player for her team,” Bernard said. “Maddy is the definition of team player. I’m very excited for Maddy to continue her career at the professional level. I know that she will continually work to improve all aspects of her game and reach any goals that she sets for herself.”
Williams said Diaz and Bernard were integral to her and the team's success at Perrysburg. Williams also credited her club coach, Mike Aubry. Williams played for Aubry for five years with the Greater Toledo Futbol Club.
“Mike was a very tough love, straightforward person. There were plenty of nights I would come home crying from training because Mike was only hard on me,” Williams said. “But as I matured I realize he was truly pushing me to reach my potential that he saw in me, even when I didn’t see it in myself. Mike is the sole reason I am known as a goal scorer.”
As a freshman and sophomore in high school, Williams played for GTFC before playing her final two years with the Yellow Jackets.
“I remember beating Northview 6-1 my senior season. We had lost to them in the tournament the previous year. So this was a very special game and we demolished them,” Williams said. “The Strongsville [state tournament] game was my favorite. No one expected us to win that game. That was the game that gave us the confidence that we could really do the damn thing.”
Williams called the college recruiting process “long and tedious” with the exchange of thousands of emails and campus visits. She said she developed a special connection with her first coach at Purdue, Rob Klatte.
She was a four-year starter for the Boilermakers, leading the team in scoring each year. But Williams tore her ACL during spring practice in 2016.
“The recovery process was a long and tedious one, but it actually turned out to be good timing,” Williams said. “It is one of the most frustrating times you could ever experience as an athlete. Getting through this time mentally was toughest for me. But bouncing back how I did made everything worth it.”
The Boilermakers went 4-12-1 without Williams in the lineup. With her back last fall, Purdue went 20-4-4 under coach Drew Roff.
“All of my favorite moments have come from my fifth and final year,” Williams said. “I broke the assists record first, proving I was more than just a goal scorer. I broke the goals record, which led me to break the points record. As a forward, those are the three records you strive to break. I remember Drew calling me into his office after the season and telling me I had won the Big Ten Forward of the Year and I just burst into tears. The feeling is actually indescribable.”
Williams went undrafted in the National Women's Soccer League, the highest level for women in the United States, but she was contacted immediately afterward by a few NWSL teams about going to training camp. But Williams said she would have had to miss too much school and decided to get her degree. She earned her bachelor's degree in environmental and ecological engineering in May.
“I am incredibly proud of Maddy,” Diaz said. “ I always bring Maddy's example of a teammate and captain to all newcomers and we continue to use her work ethic to affect the new Perrysburg players.
“When you see a kid going through ups and downs and accomplish amazing things due to her perseverance and talent you can't help but be amazed by her.”
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