Mariah Hobson learned a lot about herself this soccer season, even though she missed more than half of it.
She learned that she maybe had a little more determination than she thought.
She learned how to truly become a team leader even if she couldn’t play.
And she learned that dreams do come true to those who believe.
The Princeton High School senior went down with what appeared to be a season-ending knee injury in the sixth game of the year.
Not so fast.
She was just two goals away from breaking Jasmine Kunkel’s school career scoring record, a goal she had made for herself when she first started playing soccer.
With a full ACL tear and partial MCL tear, wearing a knee brace, Hobson returned on Senior Night against DePue-Hall to score two goals to set the record with 107 career goals.
For her determination and record-breaking season, Hobson, who scored more than twice as many goals (12) than the next highest team member, is the BCR Girls Soccer Player of the Year for the third consecutive season.
“It’s amazing to win this year because I didn’t think I would my senior year (after being hurt),” she said. “I’m too hard-headed to give up on myself and give up on the goal I set when I was like 5 years old. People said I was crazy. You know what, you’ve got to be a little crazy to get goals like that and I did it.
“And I’m just proud of myself and the people that supported me through it. It’s just amazing to do it.”
Hobson never doubted she’d come back to take a shot at the record, knee injury and all.
“That was the only thing keeping me going, honestly. I was so close,” she said. “I took it one day at a time. I felt stronger and I talked to my doctor and I said, ‘You know what, I’m playing with or without your permission.’ He said, OK and my mom said, OK. Just had to get coach (David) Gray on board.”
Hobson said Dr. Michael Shin told her to pick and choose her games and get the goals and get out, “and that’s what I did.”
She thanked her mom for convincing Gray to let her play and her teammates for all their support.
“Their hearts were fully in it to try to get me that goal and that was just really amazing to see. They were really good teammates for that,” she said.
Gray said it was something that Hobson had to work hard to achieve.
“One more obstacle was not going to stop her,” he said. “It’s a great end to her high school soccer story. Although, I think she would have liked some team success as a senior as well.”
While further injuring her knee when she set the record from a partial MCL tear to a full tear, she said it was well worth it.
“You know what, I’d do it all over again. It was 100 percent worth it,” she said. “I’ve been going for this goal since I was little. I would do it again and I wouldn’t change it.”
Having to miss the majority of the season proved to be a learning experience for Hobson.
“I hated the way I went down and all. Watching from the sidelines is a lot different than being a player and I learned a lot coaching and cheering on my team,” she said.
For the first time in her career, Hobson wore the yellow letter “C” on her sleeve as team captain. It was a honor she wore with great pride.
“A few years ago, coach Gray told me I could potentially be a captain and I’ve been working toward that the past two years,” she said. “Even though I got hurt and I finally got to be captain, I still made sure I was captain material and I was leading the younger girls and helping them.
“There were quite a few young girls and I was excited to play with them. I got six games with them, so I guess I’ll take it. It was hard to watch because I felt like I wasn’t doing my duty as a captain having to be on the sidelines and not physically show them how to do certain things. But I did the best I could and I think they listened to me and learned from it. Either way, it was good overall experience.”
Gray said Hobson took to the role as captain very well.
“I think her leadership became very apparent after the injury. Her encouragement and support meant a lot to the team,” Gray said.
Hobson said being a captain means leadership.
“You have to be unselfish if you want to be a captain. You have to put the team’s needs before yours,” she said.
Hobson is excited for her next journey on the soccer pitch when she plays for Monmouth College in 2024 after sitting out this fall.
“I’m really excited. I’m excited for the team even though I can’t play this fall. I’m still going to be a part of it, just as I was for the Princeton High School team. I’m going to go to every practice, every game. So I’m excited to play collegiately.
When she’s done playing, Hobson wants to become a history teacher and coach high school soccer. She jokes that she wants to become the next coach Gray and maybe take over as PHS coach from him.