St. Charles East’s Amanda Hilton wants season to last as long as possible

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Imagine knowing that disappointment is just around the corner.

St. Charles East soccer standout Amanda Hilton hopes the Saints have an extended run before the true end of her stellar high school athletic career.

“Oh, it’s going to be real hard,” Hilton admits with a quiver in her voice. “It was tough enough the way the basketball season ended.”

In mid-January, not long after recording her 1,000 career point in basketball off a three-pointer against eventual 3A state champion Montini, a knee injury forced her into assisting from the Saints bench. Her leadership — more than averages of 13.7 points, three assists, two steals and 1.5 threes — still led to all-conference and all-area acclaim for the third time during a four-year varsity career.

“I grew up playing sports and having to watch from the sidelines as the last seconds of the season ticked away, it hit me that so much time, practice and effort led to that point,” Hilton said. “But no one game or season defines your career.

“I love basketball and soccer the most and I’m so glad to have done both at East. I don’t believe it’s necessary to commit to just one in high school; all athletes should simply do what they love. If soccer and softball didn’t conflict in the spring, I’d have played three sports.

“It may sound cliché, but my only thought for postseason is (regional-opening foe) West Chicago. Your focus has to be one match at a time. Unlike basketball, I know I won’t be done playing soccer,” the Nebraska-bound midfielder said. “But I want to keep wearing a Saints uniform as long as possible.”

Just as in basketball, Hilton has been a four-year varsity regular in soccer and a perennial figure on all-conference and all-area squads.

The best summary of her soccer skills comes from Saints coach Paul Jennison.

“She is the best box-to-box player in the state.”

Whether dropping back to shore up the defense or working her way up field to initiate offense, Jennison wants the ball at Hilton’s feet. Heading into the regular-season finale, Hilton shares the lead in goals (11), is second in points (31) and third in assists (9).

Another impressive number is a perfect 5.0 grade-point-average on a resume that includes National Honor Society, Peer Leadership and P.E. Leaders, along with student teaching at the fifth grade level.

“It’s important to be involved at school not just on the field. I want to give back to the community and some of my best memories are from volunteering,” Hilton said. “That’s why I’m so grateful for all my teammates who always pushed me in practice or games, and all my coaches who set high expectations and helped me grow.

“As much as I’ve been part of the Saints family, my own family means the most to me,” Hilton said. “I thank my parents and my (younger) sister (Taylor) for cheering me up if I was down, plus all their support. I couldn’t have done anything without them.”

Hilton will never stop appreciating even minor aspects of her “unbelievable four years at East” or the simple things like watching movies with her dad sharing a bowl of popcorn.

She is eager to join a Nebraska program that just won the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.

“I believe the staff there will help me find a new level of soccer within myself.”

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