Nice girl Aya-ay plays a mean game of soccer for HHS
HUNTINGTON — Players on the women’s national soccer team of the Philippines are known as the “Malditas,” which translated to English roughly means, “mean girls.”
Huntington High School girls soccer standout Sophie Aya-Ay is a nice kid, but she plays a mean game of soccer.
Aya-ay, who is of Filipino descent, has scored in eight of Huntington High’s 10 games this season. Small and quick, she reminds some people of Huntington St. Joe senior star McKenzie Moran as a sophomore. Her goal is to be a pediatrician, certainly not a evil profession.
“I love working with kids,” Aya-Ay said. My baby sister (Jolie, 7) was in neonatal intensive care for a long time. When I would come home from school when she was little, I would run in, take a shower, change clothes and then take care of her. I had to do it that way because we couldn’t get germs on her.”
Family is important to Aya-Ay. She said her dad Jay and mom Amie are her biggest influences. Aya-ay’s older brother, Avery, 18, is a student at Marshall University. Her younger brother, Johnny, 13, plays soccer in middle school.
“Johnny is really good, too,” Aya-Ay said. “He’s a good player. He will be a freshman when I’m a senior. I look forward to that.”
Aya-Ay is accustomed to stepping up into a leadership role, whether at home, in the classroom or on the soccer field. Huntington High (4-4-2) graduated star player Tesia Schray from last year’s team. Not only was Schray, who plays at Marshall, an excellent player, she was the undisputed leader of the Highlanders last season. Aya-Ay doesn’t claim to fill Schray’s cleats, but said she and her teammates work together to fill that void.
Aya-Ay often deflects praise from herself to others, whether players or coaches.
“Jalen has been a big influence on me,” Aya-ay said of sophomore teammate Jalen Nicely. ”(head coach Susan McHale) is a great coach and so is (assistant Tony Shackelford). Claire (Burbery) is so good and we work well together on the field.”
Aya-Ay could have gone on, but didn’t want to leave out anyone. Her coach returned the praise.
“Sophie has played fantastic,” McHale said of Aya-ay, one of 14 sophomores on Huntington High’s roster.
Aya-Ay has been to the Philippines, where her grandmother lives, and would like to return.
“The last time I was there I was 3, so I don’t really remember it,” Aya-Ay said. “I want to go there this summer. My grandma has a huge house and I can stay there.”
Such a vacation might mean taking a break from soccer, which Aya-ay has played since she was 8. She plays summer ball with the West Virginia Soccer Club, where she is a teammate of Nicely. If she goes to the Philippines, who knows, maybe the Malditas will try to sign her.