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story.lead_photo.caption Bud Sullins/Special to the Herald-Leader Siloam Springs senior Megan Hutto takes a stab at a ball during the Lady Panthers' game against El Dorado on May 1. Hutto signed to play college soccer at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla.

SILOAM SPRINGS -- Megan Hutto is a unique find on the soccer field and a joy to watch, said Siloam Springs girls soccer coach Brent Crenshaw.

"Watching her," Crenshaw said, "I use her as an example to my boys sometimes. 'Watch how Megan turns and just beats players with her speed and her strength.' Those special players don't come very often, and it is fun to watch her."

Time is running out for Siloam Springs to enjoy the services of Hutto, something they've been able to do on the soccer field for the last four years.

Hutto, a senior forward, and the Lady Panthers (21-3-2) are shooting for a state record fifth straight Class 6A title, something no other girls soccer team in Arkansas has done. Siloam Springs plays at 2 p.m. Friday against Benton (16-4).

Hutto and her senior teammates have been part of the three straight championships, and she's a bit overwhelmed with how quickly the end is approaching.

"It's all going so fast," said Hutto, who signed with Northeastern State (Okla.) in February. "I cannot believe how fast it's going. That's insane to me. I'm really shocked. My emotions are high right now because it's all going by so fast."

It seems just like yesterday that Hutto was a freshman trying to earn a position on an already talented Lady Panthers' squad in 2015.

With returning starters at several positions, Hutto tried out to play outside defensive back because it was one of only a couple of spots that didn't have a returning starter.

By the end of the year, then-coach Chuck Jones and his staff had moved Hutto forward into attack and she blossomed in the role.

Hutto scored a hat-trick in a state tournament game against Texarkana and then two more in a semifinal win against Mountain Home. After Siloam Springs defeated Searcy in the state finals, Hutto was named the state tournament Most Valuable Player.

Hutto picked up where she left off as a sophomore in 2016, scoring seven goals and leading the team with 12 assists as the Lady Panthers won their third straight state title.

Last season, Hutto exploded for 25 goals and a school record 22 assists as the Lady Panthers went 24-3 overall and won their fourth straight state championship. In four years, she's scored 68 goals and totaled 63 assists while leading the Lady Panthers to a combined record of 72-18-6.

Hutto's banner year in 2017 would have been MVP-worthy had it not been for the performance of her teammate and close friend Audrey Maxwell, who scored a school record 42 goals along with 18 assists and was named girls soccer player of the year by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Adversity struck the Lady Panthers back in late January when Maxwell tore her ACL playing club ball and was lost for the season less than a month before the Lady Panthers were to begin their 2018 campaign.

Hutto knew then that she would have to take on more of a scoring role in the Siloam Springs offense with the loss of Maxwell. She moved from her more natural midfield position to forward at the front of the Lady Panthers' attack.

"It's a big role," Hutto said. "(Maxwell) was huge, so it's like there was a big hole there. It was tricky at first because we had to adjust."

On the season, Hutto leads the Lady Panthers with 28 goals and a school record 23 assists, well on her way to another all-state season.

Bud Sullins/Special to the Herald-Leader Siloam Springs senior Megan Hutto leaps to avoid a coliision with El Dorado goalkeeper Hannah Turbeville during a game on May 1 at Panther Stadium. Hutto leads the Lady Panthers with 26 goals and 19 assists on the season.

Sports on 05/16/2018

Print Headline: Siloam Springs' Hutto a 'special' player to watch

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