Annslee Glenn’s unique first name is a combination of the names of both of her great-grandmothers. Likewise, the Nixa senior has progressed into a rare combination of a defender who is speedy and physical.
Glenn is a prime reason why the Lady Eagles (5-5) have yielded only 15 goals, or an average of 1.5 goals a match. They’ve been stingy even while missing injured goalkeeper Riley McClintock for three weeks and injured defender/midfielder Hannah Lannutti for two weeks.
Mixing things up with opposing forwards has never been a problem for Glenn as long as she’s been playing. She’s matured into an All-COC performer and an Evangel signee by actually learning to make less contact with opponents.
“When I was little, I was bad about being too physical,” Glenn said. “I would always be throwing elbows. That was a bad habit. I’ve tried to tone that down a little bit and think I’m around the right area now.
“I have to keep in mind that I can’t go out there and shove people around. But you do have to be able to step in front of people and hold your ground. You also have to beat those fast forwards to the ball.”
Nixa coach Evan Palmer agrees Glenn has remained physical while learning not to foul. Over the years, he's enjoyed working with players who initially were overaggressive.
“It’s easy to pull back the reigns, so they’re not fouling all the time. But it’s hard to make them aggressive,” Palmer said. “She’s always been able to mix it up with people. She’s learned that balance over the years.”
Lannutti provides Nixa a physical presence and even can intimidate opponents. The Lady Eagles have coped with her absence about as well as they could have hoped.
“We’ve got three senior defenders and we have a strong second line,” Glenn said. “So, it wasn’t like we were thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, we just lost Hannah.’ We knew there was nothing we could do about it and we had to step it up and play our best.”
A sequence in Nixa’s 2-0 triumph at Springfield Catholic last week was a prime example of the emphasis Glenn has placed on being patient defensively. As the Lady Irish drove the ball downfield on a 3-2 break, Glenn kept herself in front of the forward handling the ball, before deftly stealing it from her with minimal contact.
The open-field pick-pocket was about as good as it gets for a defender and a play Glenn could be proud of.
“Our coaches have been talking to us a lot about not stepping in or diving in as soon as they get the ball,” Glenn said. “I was waiting for her to make a mistake. When she did, that’s when I had the chance to jump in. She tried to do a lot of foot-skill stuff. I knew as soon as she took a touch too big, that’s when I was going to be able to jump in.”