UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio (BVM) — Only one person can sit atop the list of the top high school girls soccer players in the state of Ohio. According to Top Drawer Soccer and Gannett Ohio’s list of the top 21 girls soccer players in the state, that player is Abby Reisz.
Also labeled as a top-10 goalkeeper prospect in the entire country, Reisz continues to star on the field for Upper Arlington High School just as she has since she first began playing the sport.
Early on in her life, Reisz often found herself on the tennis court more than the soccer pitch, following in the footsteps of her mom. But by fifth grade, Reisz decided to follow her love for soccer.
“Eventually you have to kind of pick, so obviously soccer is where I ended up,” Reisz said. “From the time I was little, soccer really clicked with me.”
In her decade plus of soccer, Reisz has always played at the club level with Ohio Premier. As she has gotten older and the competition has gotten stronger, the 17-year-old has realized how much playing for the club has meant to her game.
“It’s very close to my heart, I’ve grown up with it and it’s all that I know in the soccer world,” Reisz said about Ohio Premier. “I owe many thank yous and the teamwork and the players have made it not just a great experience soccer wise, but also built me as a person as well. They’ve done a great job getting me prepared for the next steps in my life, not just on the soccer field, and that’s something I’m incredibly thankful for.”
However, much of Reisz’s soccer success may not have happened if she didn’t take advantage of a new opportunity when she was 9.
“When I was at U10, it was my turn in the game to play in goal,” Reisz said. “Immediately, it was just natural. My dad was immediately like, ‘She is going to be really good at this if she wants to do it.’ That was one of those moments in my life where it was just like, wow, this could be special.”
Reisz continued to find success playing goalie with Ohio Premier. But once she entered high school at Upper Arlington, the soccer standout proved her versatility, primarily playing forward as a freshman and sophomore.
“I played forward for my first two years of high school and it wasn’t too much of an adjustment,” Reisz said. “It’s definitely different from club but it’s a role that I took on and I love to play in the field.”
As a freshman, Reisz was named an all-state player as a forward. As a junior, she had visions of doing the same, this time as a goalkeeper. Her junior season also marked a new beginning for the Upper Arlington program, as Reisz’s longtime mentor and neighbor, Andrew Kessinger, was hired to take over the team.
“Since Andrew has been here, it’s been great,” Reisz mentioned. “We’ve invested in him and the coaching staff. All the coaches are fantastic. He’s done a great job hiring people who work really well with high school girls and know high school soccer. I think it’s really improved the program.
“Me and Andrew have known each other for a long, long time. He’s my neighbor, he’s watched me grow up, he’s watched me play soccer since I was really, really young. The two of us have worked well these last two years … it’s a really cool thing.”
Although Kessinger was poised to play Reisz in goal during the 2020 season, a broken wrist suffered in the summer would nix the plan and lead the soccer standout to another year playing in the field.
“The injury was very unexpected and it was late in the summer when we finally figured out it was broken,” Reisz said. “I broke it in early June, but I didn’t know that I broke it so I continued to play on it until late July. I had been prepping all summer to play in goal so it was a bit of a rude awakening. But we made adjustments, and I obviously had to take some time off to recover from surgery. Once I was back with my mental focus, I was able to get myself back in shape and mentally adjust to the role that I’d be playing my junior year.”
After another strong campaign, Reisz has come into her senior soccer season focused, prepared and ready to lead. Finally having the opportunity to play in goal at the high school level, the senior has lived up to the billing of being the top player in Ohio as Reisz and the Golden Bears have allowed just four goals all season thus far, leading to a 7-1 record.
“It’s been great playing in goal finally,” Reisz said. “It is a little weird playing in goal in high school because I’ve never done it, but it’s been a great experience so far. My teammates are fantastic and all of us are just really well connected. I think that is helping us a lot and if you have good chemistry, you can make a lot happen with that.”
Now playing goalie, Reisz has a chance to accomplish a rare feat in becoming an all-state player at two different positions during her high school career. She also has aspirations of being named an All-American by the time the 2021 season is all said and done, and perhaps a Gatorade Player of the Year as well. And of course, the success of the Golden Bears as a whole is always on her mind.
“We’re looking to keep winning and just getting through the season game by game, trying to achieve the goals that we have together,” Reisz added. “I think this is definitely a team that can get those goals done. I’d love to be all-state, and I think being Gatorade Player of the Year would be really cool. I have big aspirations not just for myself but for everybody else and I think we can get that done with the great program that we have here.”
Next fall, Reisz will be looking to get the job done with a different program when she begins her Division I college soccer career. As imagined, the goalkeeper received plenty of interest and offers from a variety of schools early on in the recruiting process. While Michigan and Xavier were strong considerations, it was the University of Tennessee that always stood above the rest.
“I started getting some interest in eighth grade,” Reisz said. “I was getting interest from Tennessee in the beginning of my freshman year. I visited there a couple of times and I loved the campus, the coaching staff was amazing and they still are, and the group of players that are there are all great people and players. It’s a great environment, I love my time there and I love my time with the people there. Honestly, my heart was with Tennessee from the beginning.”
Reisz hopes to earn playing time as soon as her freshman season, and will look to grow and learn right away from the upperclassmen on the team. From there, she hopes her game will continue progressing to the point where she can play professional soccer.
“Ever since I was a little kid watching soccer on TV, I knew that’s who I wanted to be,” Reisz said. “I know it will take an incredible amount of work, it always has and it always will. But to get to that point would be amazing.”
Another goal for the Upper Arlington senior is to someday compete on the U.S. women’s national team. Recently, she has taken steps to doing so by being named to the pool of players for the 18U national squad — a tremendous moment for both her and her family.
“It was a really cool moment for me and my family,” Reisz said. “My parents have been invested in me from the start, they are the greatest parents I could ask for and it was a really special moment to be able to share with them. They are going through this just as much as I am and are right there with me along the way. You couldn’t ask for anything better, really.
“That’s obviously the dream of every little soccer player and it’s obviously my dream. That would be a really cool experience to be able to continue on with that program.”
But first, Reisz is focused on continuing her reign as the top high school soccer player in Ohio. It’s a recognition that certainly means a lot to the future Vols star, but she hopes it is also something that can lift up those around her to where they want to go.
“That’s obviously a great big honor and I hold that close to me,” Reisz noted. “It holds me personally to bring myself up and bring my team up because I want to keep us at that high standard and keep myself at a high standard. I’m obviously very proud of it, but it’s not something that I’m focused on. I’m focused on getting better day by day and making people around me better.”