Mile High Sports High School Athlete of the Year: Mallory Pugh, Mountain Vista

This story originally appeared in Mile High Sports Magazine. Read the full digital edition.

When the rest of the world starts learning about Mallory Pugh in the next few years, we’ll get to say we knew about her first.

The Mountain Vista soccer standout is making waves on a national level, all from the comfort of the Highlands Ranch area. Many view her as the next star of the US Women’s National Team, the very team that just won the World Cup.

And Pugh has yet to even attended her senior prom.

That will come this spring and will hopefully coincide with a Class 5A state championship for the Golden Eagles. If Pugh continues to play at the (incredibly) high level she did last year, Mountain Vista may be unstoppable.

“I feel like you have to play the game with that grit,” she told USA Today High School Sports. “You have to bring something special and lead your team and make big plays and make everyone around you better.”

Pugh is no stranger when comes to the ability to make big plays. Last spring she played in only 10 games for the Golden Eagles. In those 10 games, she scored 24 goals while assisting on 12 of her teammates’ scores.

That’s a grand total of 60 points for the season. In 10 games.

A six-point per game average might be considered good for a high school basketball player who is coming off the bench. For a high school soccer player?

Jim Irsay might say that those are Star Wars numbers. And he wouldn’t be wrong.

Every time Pugh stepped on the field, she was good basically for two goals and an assist. Opponents were essentially spotting Mountain Vista a three-goal lead before the game even started.

“There’s soccer and then there’s Mallory Pugh soccer,” Golden Eagles coach Theresa Echtermeyer told last spring. “She’s a special player for us and for this community. We’re very blessed to have her.”

Her talents are ensuring that she will be a special player for more than just the Mountain Vista community. At 17 years old, Pugh was named to the US Women’s National U-20 World Cup team, making her the youngest player to participate in the women’s youth championship since FIFA raised the age limit to 20.

She was a clear choice to be named the 2015 Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year. Two days after receiving that honor, she went one step further as Gatorade announced her as its National Player of the Year.

She became only the third Colorado girls soccer player in history to earn the national award. Wheat Ridge’s Mary McDowell won it in 2001, one year after Green Mountain’s Aleisha Cramer became the state’s first national winner in 2000.

Pugh is the clear No. 1 prospect in her recruiting class and has already made the choice to play college soccer for UCLA.

“Mallory Pugh is the best player in high school soccer I have ever seen,” Heritage coach Adam Buseck said after learning that Pugh had received Gatorade’s national honor.

That sentiment was on display last spring when Pugh, as a junior, led her second-ranked Golden Eagles to a 4-1 win over undefeated and top-ranked ThunderRidge.

With Mountain Vista down 1-0, Pugh put her talents on full display and scored two quick goals before halftime to give the Golden Eagles a 2-1 lead. They cruised the rest of the way.

They appeared to be the favorites to win the 5A title, but fell to Broomfield 2-0 in the state semifinals.

Pugh will get another chance to earn the state’s top team prize before turning her attention to her college career and the national program. At the rate she is developing as a player, it’s only a matter of time before she finds herself on the same stage that Clari Lloyd, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan were on not so long ago.

A true diamond in the rough, Mallory Pugh was a shoo-in for the Mile High Sports High School Athlete of the Year.

There is no question that greatness is in her not-so-distant future. But like many who have donned the cover and filled the pages of this magazine, this is an athlete that Colorado has seen develop over the years.

When national publications start singing her praise, it’ll be just another reminder that she was ours first.