The graduation of one of the most prolific scorers in school history meant the Columbus North girls soccer team needed someone to fill that scoring void this season.

Junior Tanner Johnson assumed that role. She netted 18 goals to go along with three assists in leading the Bull Dogs to sectional and regional titles and is this year’s The Republic Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

“I really anticipated she’d have kind of a breakout year this year,” North coach Derek Stewart said. “She played kind of in the shadows of Addy (Lang), but we were really looking to her to step up this year. She had kind of a slow start, but at the end of the (regular) season and in the postseason, she was unstoppable.”

Johnson was at her best in the postseason. She scored the game’s lone goal in a 1-0 regional semifinal win against Floyd Central.

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The previous week, Johnson scored seven of the Bull Dogs’ eight goals in their three sectional wins.

“I just had a mindset that that week was really important, and it showed in how I played,” Johnson said.

Johnson had two goals and an assist as a freshman, when Lang, who had scored 25 goals the previous year, was out with an injury. Last year, Lang returned and scored 26 goals, while Johnson added 11 goals and four assists for a team that won a regional title.

This year, Johnson was North’s go-to player.

“Freshman year, when she was injured, I felt like I had to do that, but unfortunately didn’t get many goals,” Johnson said. “Then last year, we worked well together. This year, she was gone, and I didn’t have her with me, so it was kind of all up to me.”

Stewart isn’t surprised that Johnson had a breakout season.

“She had a solid year last year, also, but Tanner really had an impressive year this year,” Stewart said. “Tanner is a very competitive player. She works hard and has a great work ethic, and we’re just so proud to have her on our team.”

Johnson currently is playing club soccer for the Alliance. She wants to play college soccer and is looking for schools that offer her intended major of dental hygiene.

Next year, Johnson hopes to lead the Bull Dogs to a third consecutive regional title and possibly even more.

“It was really great to go to semistate two years in a row,” Johnson said. “I think we did really well, considering we had many injuries and had to pull up a lot of players.”

At a glance

The 2017 Republic All-Area Girls Soccer team:

Tanner Johnson, Columbus North: The junior led the Bull Dogs with 18 goals and added three assists.

Liz Tynan, Columbus North: The senior recorded eight shutouts and an 0.91 goals-against average.

Elise Whitley, Columbus North: The junior led the Bull Dogs with four assists and led a defense that allowed only 17 goals in 20 games.

Corrine Orben, Columbus North: The senior netted three goals and four assists and helped lead a defense that allowed only 17 goals in 20 games.

Kristen Orben, Columbus North: The senior scored five goals and had two assists.

Caroline Hollenkamp, Columbus North: The sophomore netted nine goals and one assist.

Lindsey Stoughton, Columbus East: The sophomore scored four goals and led the Olympians with seven assists.

Alana Dwenger, Columbus East: The freshman led the Olympians with 16 goals and added six assists.

Addy Galarno, Columbus East: The senior netted six goals and three assists.

Morgan Martindale, Columbus East: The senior led a defense that allowed only 31 goals in 18 games.

Sarah Park, Columbus East: The junior netted 11 goals and four assists.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Jasmine Imming. Columbus East: Breiana Burton. Columbus North: Baleigh Drum, Kate Kolhouse, Jocelyn Maynard, Lauryn Whitley. Jennings County: Naomi Beal, Alexus Brown, Baylee Byford. Trinity Lutheran: Maddie Bell, Sidney Hoene, Savanna Setty.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.