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Lauren Ocker fills variety of roles for Chambersburg

As far as personnel, a soccer coach's first wish is almost always going to be a natural goal scorer, the kind of player who makes great runs off the ball, gets into position to score and then consistently finishes.

But the next most valuable player is the one who is versatile, can play different positions, can bring together both sides of the ball and communicates well. They are the players who form the backbone of a team.

Chambersburg had that kind of player on its girls soccer team this fall in Lauren Ocker, and she has been named the Public Opinion Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

"She's an all-around great player and what a coach looks for," Trojan coach Ed Franchi said. "She has good size and speed, she plays with determination and a lot of effort and she communicates well - she really has all that you look for in a player.

"Lauren is a sophomore, but she already has really good skills. And she's durable - I'm pretty sure she played every minute of every game this year."

Ocker is listed as a defender, where she started as a freshman a year ago, and she teamed with Ashlynn Swanger to form a good pairing in the center of the backfield this fall.

But she has the skills of a midfielder and, especially toward the end of the season, began to assert herself at the offensive end of the field. She scored two goals, including the game-winner against Greencastle-Antrim.

"I think I was seeing the field better this year, and I got more comfortable with directing people on where to go on defense," Ocker said. "Next year I want to be able to make more runs out of the back. This year I went up mostly on corner kicks or when we had a throw-in near the box."

Franchi said, "When she did go up top she created a lot of opportunities on set pieces, especially late in the year. She was good at getting her head on the ball."

Ocker, who has played forward and midfield with her club team, said she'd love to play center midfield next fall, but "only if it works best for the team, and if moving up wouldn't hurt the defense."

Defending is still her mindset, however. Instead of choosing the goals she scored as the highlights of her season, and said shutting down some potent strikers is what she'll remember most.

Ocker started playing soccer in first grade and settled on it as her top sport, although she will also play basketball for the Trojans this winter.

"I like to run a lot, and with the pace of play on the soccer field, you get to do a lot of it," Ocker said.

In the offseason, Ocker works on both sports.

"I'll work on soccer a few days a week, doing ball skills and shooting - I want to do better with my left foot next year," she said. "And some days I'll work on basketball and shooting. And I'll do some lifting, too, and do open gyms."

Sounds like Ocker's trying to be even more versatile next year.

Lauren Ocker file

Grade: Sophomore

Position: Defense

Height: 5-foot-5

Parents: Greg and Melinda Ocker

Interests: Ocker also plays basketball for the Trojans, and likes to snowboard and go hiking.

Favorite team: North Carolina basketball

Favorite player: Ali Kreiger

Club team: WYSA Dynamite of Waynesboro

Statistics: Ocker scored 2 goals, including a game-winner vs. Greencastle-Antrim ... Of Chambersburg's 6 wins, 3 came by shutout ... She was a P.O. Second Team pick last year.