The allure of the flip throw first pulled in Ashlyn Lakin when she was in middle school.
After watching YouTube videos of professional players tumbling and flinging the ball further than any regular throw-in could go, Lakin saw how effective it could be and immediately went to work on the mechanics to pull it off in a game.
“I used to do gymnastics,” Lakin said. “It’s pretty much just like a front handspring.”
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Lakin takes four or five steps, plants the ball on the ground, performs the flip with the ball still in her hands and then lets her momentum swing the ball into the box and usually a couple yards in front of goal. The hardest part is knowing when to release the ball to make sure it doesn’t dive straight into the ground or sky too far into the air.
It’s a regular part of her game now as a sophomore defender for Maize and it’s become another weapon in the arsenal for the Eagles, as the No. 1 team in Kansas improved to 15-0 this season with a 6-0 victory at Trinity Academy (11-3) on Thursday.
Maize scored its third goal of the season directly off one of Lakin’s throw-ins, as Lakin found Ashley Zane in the box for a header that Zane buried into the back of the net.
“It’s awesome because she usually is able to put it on the back post,” Zane said. “I’ve finished off of two of them, so it’s just awesome that she can do that flip throw. It’s exciting to play with and everybody loves watching it. It’s great to have.”
This was news to Maize coach Jay Holmes at the start of the season. He had never had a player, boy or girl, capable of pulling such a move off and he laughed off his players when they told him that Lakin could do it.
But they persisted and after watching her do it in practice, Holmes gave it the green light in games.
“It’s essentially another corner kick when we have a throw-in in the final third of the field,” Holmes said. “She’s probably throwing it 45, 50 yards on a line. It’s not something sent into orbit; it’s on a rope and it’s effective.”
Defenses are already concerned about finding Katie McClure (41 goals) and Makayla Toth (40 goals), the top two goal-scorers in Kansas, so Lakin’s flip-throw brings another element they must account for.
Trinity, which was playing without Maycee Bell, who is in California training with the Under-17 national team, held Maize to one goal for the first 35 minutes but the rout began when Zane powered in a shot in the final minute of the first half.
Maize has scored 113 goals in 15 games. Lakin is just happy to be a small part of the top attack in Kansas. McClure, who scored three times Thursday, has 15 goals in four games the last six days.
“I usually don’t get any assists or looks at goal,” Lakin said. “So it’s really exciting to be part of the offense like that. I just have to put the ball in there because I know my teammates can put them away.”
First half– 1. Maize, McClure; 2. Maize, Zane (Kat. Krier). Second half_3. Maize, McClure (Toth); 4. Maize, Toth; 5. Maize, Zane (Lakin); 6. Maize, McClure (Zane). Shots– Maize 12-15– 27, Trinity 2-0– 2. Saves– Maize, Bontrager 2-0– 2; Trinity, Bearup 10-11– 21.