LEXINGTON — Lexington senior Addy Boyce returned home from Lady Lex’s 5-0 shutout win over Mansfield Senior on Aug. 31 feeling accomplished.
It was her team’s first shutout victory of the 2023 season and the second Ohio Cardinal Conference win of the week. As she tossed her soccer bag on the floor of her room, she grabbed her phone to check her messages. And right on queue, fellow Lexington senior Terrance Corbin pinged her phone with a text message.
The conversation centered around soccer and how well Boyce played defense against the Tygers. Boyce, an All-Ohio defender in 2022, picked Corbin’s brain about what she could do better and how he would have approached a situation that happened in the game. All the while, Corbin was studying how Boyce handled different attacks from opposing teams so he could add that to his game as a defensive-minded player for the Minutemen.
The two seniors piloted their teams to Division II district championships last year, Corbin’s team made it five straight, thanks to their stellar defensive play and now, in 2023, they are at it again. Selfless, thankless, physical, bruising, gritty defense is how Corbin and Boyce define themselves on the pitch. And it is perfectly fine if they receive no credit for any of it.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” Corbin said. “I have great teammates around me and if they get the recognition, I am just as happy as if I did. As long as we keep our heads about us, stay solid on the defensive end and win, that is all the recognition I am looking for.”
“I don’t like attention so the thankless part of it, I am perfectly fine,” Boyce said. “None of the attention has to be on me ever. As long as I am helping the team, my name doesn’t have to be everywhere for it.”
Terrance Corbin asked to play new position
For the last three years, Corbin has been a staple on the Lexington defense learning from some of the best to ever play the spot. Last year, he took over the role as the last line of defense and thrived. He earned first team All-District and first team All-Ohio Cardinal Conference as he helped the team post nine shutouts and a 15-5-1 record. They were honors well deserved but the thing he was most proud of was the district title when the Minutemen shut out Ontario 2-0.
And it wasn’t because of the shutout, but because his team secured goal No. 1 for the season.
“Everyone wants to be that guy, but I have always been about the team first,” Corbin said. “I want to win. We have team goals and I want to achieve those more than anything. I would rather go deep in the tournament with my team than achieve personal goals and sit at home while everyone else plays in the regional tournament.”
But now, Corbin is being asked to play a new position as a defensive midfielder who will also have a role in some offense. It’s unfamiliar territory, but so far, so good. He has a goal already as the Minutemen are 4-0 with two shutouts and a 26-2 scoring advantage with two shutouts. Needless to say, Corbin is adjusting well.
“I like it,” Corbin said. “It is OK. We just have to work on some things in the middle to make us more efficient, but it will improve as the season goes on and we get more comfortable. It is a little more running, but it is kind of some weight off of my shoulders because I am not the last line of defense anymore. I never want to make a mistake, but if I do in this new position, there is someone behind me to pick me up.”
Lexington coach Peter Them knows Corbin could play nearly every position on the field. And after his main offensive weapons graduated last season, he toyed with the idea of putting Corbin up top on offense because he was so good with the ball. Then, he figured with his skillset, Corbin would thrive at midfield and Them was right.
“I think we are out of the experiment stage at this point,” Them said. “Brody Erick is a great defender and has taken over that role for us. At the beginning of the year, we were looking at all of the pieces and where and how they fit together and Terrance’s athleticism along with Brody’s strengths are things we have to utilize and this is the best way to do that. We won’t be afraid to drop Terrance back and push Brody out if the situation calls for it. To have Terrance get more comfortable in his new position, I fear for his opponents.”
Addy Boyce and the love of defense
Like Them, Lexington girls soccer coach Buck Morton fears for Boyce’s opponents. Not because Boyce is going to be one of those defenders who makes players physically pay for even thinking about attacking her side of the pitch. Not because Boyce is going to go in for a hard tackle to make people think twice about scoring and definitely not because Boyce will put someone on the ground just to send a message.
Instead, Boyce is cerebral in her approach to defense.
“She is so good,” Morton said. “The thing she does so well is when people beat our outside backs and have all this space, she cuts through the side, takes the ball, turns it up, doesn’t kick it out of bounds and turns it back to our advantage and the other team is left wondering where she came from. She is so smart. We joke around because I call her a graduate assistant even though she hasn’t graduated yet. She sees everything so well and is so solid that it is almost unfair to her because when she does make mistakes, we are left wondering how. She is that good.”
And she is that smart. Boyce’s approach to defense is all about staying two steps ahead of her opponent. She stands back scanning the field remembering where everyone is on the pitch and what could happen with a pass here or a pass there. And she is always taking inventory of what her next move will be if one of those passes happens.
“The biggest thing for me is following the runs,” Boyce said. “I play the deepest role so I can see what might happen next and if that happens, I want to make sure I know where I am going and when I should do it. Defense is all about planning ahead.”
And that thrills her more than scoring goals. A striker during her youth soccer days, Boyce knows the thrill of scoring very well, but it doesn’t even come close to the thrill she feels when her team posts a zero on the opponent’s score.
“I love it,” Boyce said. “It is always nice to score goals, but at the end of the day, you have to play defense. It is not like it is an unnecessary part of the game. I have the skill set for it. I started playing defense in club after always playing striker, but my first game back there, I fell in love with it.”
Still, she wouldn’t mind sending one to the back of the net before the season is over. She didn’t score a single goal last year when she earned All-Ohio honors, but still, who wouldn’t want to score?
“That is my senior-year goal is to score at least one time this season,” Boyce said. “I scored one on JV as a freshman, but that doesn’t count, at the same time, I will feel so much better if I can make a goal-line save than score a goal any day.”
Boyce and Corbin help each other reach new heights
As the two continue their text conversation about their games, they always leave the same way — better, smarter soccer players and better friends.
“We are friends and we talk a lot of soccer,” Corbin said. “We had a class together last year and we talked a lot about the game. We talk about our positions and how our teams are doing and it helps because she is so knowledgeable about soccer. She is always going to win the ball whenever it comes near her. She is an amazing defender and stood out on her district championship team. She is so smart.”
Boyce admits she feels like she is in a better place as a soccer player after their conversations.
“All the time,” Boyce said. ” It is so nice because he understands exactly what I am saying and we are using the same terms. We are thinking the exact same way. It is such a great thing for me because it is almost like a peer review kind of thing. He can tell me what I did and I tell him what he did and we just work through it together so we can get better.”
And that is a scary thought. An All-Ohioan in Boyce and a future All-Ohioan in Corbin both continue to get better with every passing game and conversation. It is no wonder why the Minutemen are the favorites to win their sixth straight Division II district championship and Lady Lex is right on track toward pulling off yet another miraculous postseason run when Lady Lex won the 2022 district title by beating Madison 2-1 in a shootout, Clear Fork 2-1 in the district semifinals and Ontario 2-1 in overtime for the title.
“He is a phenomenal kid and phenomenal athlete,” Them said of Corbin. “I haven’t met a person in or outside the village of Lexington who has a negative thing to say about the kid. He has this thing about him, an “it” factor, where he plays the game at the perfect emotional and intelligence level. It is hard to put into words how smart he is on the field. He always has a good time and has fun and it sometimes seems like he is just toying with people because he loves the challenge and the moment.”
Strange, Morton nearly echoed Them’s thought about Corbin to his about Boyce.
“She is about as good as we have ever had,” Morton said. “She is looking at becoming a two-time All-Ohioan and that is impressive stuff. We have such great confidence in her and she has such great confidence in herself that we do not fear anyone beating us 1 v 1. We always feel like Addy is going to reroute, get the ball back and get it to our side of the field. She is very special.”
As the season continues, the wins will pile up, the text messages will continue, the brain-picking will be endless and both Corbin and Boyce will be better for it as their games continue to mirror each others.
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Lexington boys and girls soccer in better place because of Terrance Corbin and Addy Boyce