No Denying Timko in Run to 100 Goals

April 9, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The grinding force of Taylor Timko's attacks on the soccer goal comes out in her coach Jim Stachura’s voice as he describes them.

It’s not so much something technical – although the Pontiac Notre Dame Prep senior has plenty of skill – but more a mix of athleticism, vision and drive that sets the all-state midfielder apart from most in Michigan this spring.

“And the more and more she gets denied something she wants,” Stachura said, “the more and more she’ll try it.”

In a word – is “relentless” the right one?

“That was our team word last year,” Timko answered, noting the irony of the question.

“Relentless” can have a negative connotation, meaning strict or harsh. But this is relentless in a good way – determined, unyielding, and at times unstoppable.

On Tuesday, Timko became the 41st player in MHSAA girls soccer history to score 100 goals, netting three in Notre Dame Prep's 6-0 win over Madison Heights Bishop Foley.

She has 13 goals in six games this season, to go with 39 goals as a junior, 29 as a sophomore and 21 as a freshman.

“The best part of soccer is definitely scoring. I think it’s cool that that’s the point of the game,” Timko said. “If you have a shot, I say definitely take it. It’s like anything; if there’s an opportunity there, take it and run with it. It’s kind of a motto, I guess.”

She’s made the most of many as she enters the heart of her final high school spring.

Timko made headlines this fall as the kicker for a Notre Dame Prep football team that finished a solid 8-3 with help from her left leg. She was named Homecoming Queen, accepting the crown in football uniform during halftime of the Fighting Irish’s Sept. 27 game against Detroit Loyola.

She’s also a decorated track standout, as a freshman taking third in the 400 meters and running on the fourth-place 1,600 relay at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final, then running on the third-place 1,600 relay as a sophomore. And she’s a nearly straight-A student, even as AP calculus is making that pursuit a little tougher of late.

But soccer certainly is her best game, and her impressive scoring totals have come against some of the toughest competition in Michigan. Last season’s schedule included the top-two ranked teams in Division 2 – Detroit Catholic League cross-division rivals Livonia Ladywood and Bloomfield Hills Marian – plus another top-10 Division 3 team in Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard and eventual Division 1 champion Troy.

But Timko and classmate Lindsey Klei keyed an offense attack that drove the Irish all the way to the Division 3 championship game – which despite a 1-0 loss to Grand Rapids South Christian made prophetic a conversation Stachura had with a coaching friend as Timko was just about to take off on her 100-goal career four years ago.

“He said, you know, when you get someone who’s going to score 20 goals for you, you’re going to play in a state final,” Stachura recalled. “Just having a goal scorer like that gives you the missing link. We've always had some good players ... but getting the girls to rally around her has been a big key.”

After the 21-goal debut, Stachura thought Timko’s total might fall some the next season because Notre Dame Prep graduated two all-staters including now-Oakland University contributor Katrina Stencel. But Timko scored eight more that spring than the one before, and then upped her total another 10 goals in 2013 – even as the schedule was toughened.  

Many of those goals have come on her go-to move, a fake right and cut to a shot with her left foot. She likes headers too – admitting, a little tongue-in-cheek perhaps, that at 5-foot-7, “I've got hops,” she said.

Timko also has three assists this season and 39 for her career, and should push to end up among the MHSAA career points leaders as well before this spring is done.

“Thinking back to my freshman year, I never had specific goals of what I wanted to accomplish. Just everyday stuff on the field – at practice being the best player type of things,” Timko said. “Even for a particular season, I didn't say I want to score 20 goals this year; it’s more game to game goals.

“It’s such a blessing how far we've been able to come, and the things we've been able to accomplish. I can honestly say I never expected this.”

But she’s played a huge part in – as Stachura said earlier this year – setting a standard both on the field and in her school.

Timko will head to the University of Michigan this fall to play soccer but also because she’s an outstanding and hard-working student. Her childhood aspiration was to become a veterinarian, but she’s leaning now toward something in the medical or kinesiology fields – “somewhere I could help people,” she said.

She’s a member of the National Honor Society, Students Against Destructive Decisions and her school’s Varsity Club, and serves as a student ambassador for Notre Dame Prep and math tutor to classmates.

“She’s somebody both the boys and girls can look up to – the guys give her street cred because she played football, and the girls see a great athlete and a role model,” Notre Dame Prep assistant athletic director Dean Allen said. “Some kids maybe in general get big heads on their shoulders, as stud athletes. But she's really humble."

Football was “inspiring,” allowing Timko as the kicker to observe the intensity she works to bring to the soccer field. She also learned a valuable lesson about pressure – what it takes to come through when, as a football kicker, she had only one shot at the goal and only a few seconds to execute.

Timko is loving serving as soccer captain for a third straight season, especially as she gets to share those duties with classmates Klei, Bella Galloway and Lauren Gunterman.

And that lesson in pressure could pay off big as she and the Irish continue pursuing the one prize they were denied at the end of last season.

Remember what Stachura said about when Timko gets denied?

“Relentless is definitely a way to live,” Timko said. “Everyone faces obstacles, and there are easy solutions too. But you have to keep pushing through.”

PHOTOS: (Top) Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Taylor Timko moves the ball upfield during last season’s Division 3 Final. (Middle) Timko (22), with her teammates and coach Jim Stachura, pose with the congratulatory sign she received from them after scoring her 100th career goal Tuesday. (Middle photo courtesy of Pontiac Notre Dame Prep High School.)

Hollenbaugh Surpasses Older Sister to Net Quincy's Goal-Scoring Record

By Scott Hassinger
Special for

May 28, 2024

QUINCY – Sami Hollenbaugh aspires to become a successful realtor one day, and has the next steps toward that goal mapped out.

Southwest CorridorBut she already has made a big impact in the world of high school girls soccer as Quincy's striker the last four years.

Entering last week's 8-0 Division 3 District Quarterfinal win over Springport, Hollenbaugh had scored a school-record 89 career goals. Sami's older sister Emily Hollenbaugh, a 2020 graduate, previously held the mark.

Hollenbaugh's exposure to soccer began as a 5-year-old in the local AYSO programs in Quincy and Coldwater. A year ago, Sami joined the Jackson Jaguars, a travel soccer team, to prepare for her senior year.

"My mom put all us kids into AYSO when I was younger. That's where it all started, and I was also playing softball back then. After a while, I decided just to play soccer, and I've stuck with it ever since,” Sami Hollenbaugh said. “I just like scoring goals,"

Another of her favorite aspects is getting her teammates involved.

"I enjoy other girls who don't have as many opportunities to get chances to shoot and score. I just always want to do what's best for my team," Hollenbaugh said.

Hollenbaugh's two biggest influences are her older sister and her mother Melanie Hollenbaugh.

Hollenbaugh (1) brings the ball upfield during a match."In my freshman and sophomore years, I compared myself a lot to Emily, but then I realized I didn't have to do (that) and just went out to be as competitive as I could,” Sami Hollenbaugh said. “My mom also keeps our stat book, and she's real good about keeping me upbeat and not letting me get down on myself during a match.”

Quincy (14-4-1) won the Independent Soccer League and looks to capture a second-straight District championship later this week. The Orioles' 2023 season ended with a 7-0 loss to Williamston in the Regional Semifinals.  

Hollenbaugh is one of four seniors on an 18-player roster dominated by underclassmen. Piper Eby, Grace Lindsley and Tessa Henry are the Orioles' other seniors.

"This year we have a lot of juniors, new girls and freshmen. It took us a little while to get where we are now, and we've improved a lot,” Hollenbaugh said. “Our midfield is very strong, and offensively we're getting more free balls. We spend an incredible amount of time working on shooting at the goal. I try to get as many reps at practice and at home as possible.”

After graduation, Hollenbaugh plans to study interior design at Michigan State University. Collegiate soccer is not on the radar, but she does plan on playing at the intramural level.

The real estate field has always interested her.

"I've just always enjoyed looking at homes. I go on the Zillow app a lot and have always pictured my family or myself living in a particular home," Hollenbaugh said.

Outside of soccer, Hollenbaugh is involved with National Honor Society, student council and is a member of Quincy's Varsity Club.

Olivet (14-3-3) squares off against Battle Creek Pennfield (13-5-1) in Thursday's other District Semifinal match. Winners will meet in Saturday's 10 a.m. title game with the champion advancing to the Williamston Regional.

"We had some early struggles while some of our younger players learned our system. If we can clean a few things up, I feel we have a good shot to keep advancing," said Quincy's eighth-year head coach Ivan Swift, who had been Hollenbaugh's only coach since she began playing the sport.

Eighth-year Quincy varsity girls soccer coach Ivan Swift has been Hollenbaugh's coach since she began playing soccer at age 5. "I started coaching AYSO soccer and have been Sami's coach through the various levels. About a year ago, I reached out and suggested to her that she should play travel soccer to get another coach's perspective. That experience has really helped her grow as a player. You can really see the improvement she's made this spring.”

Andy Hosmer, also head women's coach at Jackson Community College and Brooklyn Columbia Central, coached Hollenbaugh with the Jackson Jaguars.

"Sami is a very driven person. Records are meant to be broken, and I've tried to let her know all season just where she is at to accomplish those,” Swift said. “After she has graduated, I'll do the same for the other girls. Those kinds of situations help motivate your players to improve.”

Even a leg injury hasn't deterred Hollenbaugh from reaching her goals.

"Sami has battled a pulled right quad most of this season, but has only missed one match. It’s benefited her because now she's developed a good shot with her left leg when she needs to and continues to score. I think that just shows her level of determination," Swift said.

Freshman forward/midfield Laura Bostic is second in scoring for the Orioles with 22 goals, to go with 10 assists. "Laura will be a bright spot for years to come," Swift said.

Makenzie Maynard has 13 goals and four assists, Abby Hinds has nine goals and eight assists, and Sade Harges has scored six goals with three assists. Other Quincy standouts include Mackenzie Maynard, Ciaira Paul, Claire Robertson, Danica Swift, Adriana Welch and Ella Bartell.

"We call Abby 'Big Time' because she's got a real strong leg and distributes the ball very well. She takes most of our free and corner kicks and is kind've our point guard in the middle of the field," Ivan Swift said.

The Orioles are experienced on the defensive backline with three juniors playing key roles. Danica Swift, daughter of the head coach, is in her third varsity season as Quincy's starting goalkeeper.

Quincy's biggest wins this season came over Adrian Lenawee Christian 3-1 in conference play, along with a 4-1 victory over Brooklyn Columbia Central.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Quincy senior striker Sami Hollenbaugh, far right, celebrates with a teammate after scoring this season. (Middle) Hollenbaugh (1) brings the ball upfield during a match. (Below) Eighth-year Quincy varsity girls soccer coach Ivan Swift has been Hollenbaugh's coach since she began playing soccer at age 5. (Action photos by Troy Tennyson/Coldwater Daily Reporter; Swift headshot by Scott Hassinger.)