ESTERO — For three years, Aja Curth always showed up late for the start of her season on the Estero High School girls soccer team.
The season would be about a month old before Curth played her first game.
Of course, her excuse was as valid as they come: she was busy winning state championships with the school’s cross country squad.
Last fall, rather than pursue a third consecutive state title, Curth opted to drop cross country and focus entirely on her senior soccer season, from start to finish.
The result was a team-high 34 goals and 79 points in just 21 games for the Wildcats forward and the 2012-13 Naples Daily News Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
“I wasn’t as well-conditioned as the first three years I played,” said Curth, a native of New York’s Long Island. “I had to work harder during the preseason to get stamina, but it worked out well.”
Curth led a young Estero squad — which included her sister Tallyn, a freshman — to a 12-6-3 record. Six times Curth scored at least three goals in a game, highlighted by a pair of five-goal games.
“She’s a difference-maker,” Estero coach Greg Bueno said. “She was the most explosive player we had on the team.”
Had Curth played four full seasons, she easily would have been the school’s all-time scoring leader, Bueno noted. Despite missing games, Curth departed as the No. 2 all-time scorer with 163 points, four shy of leader Jessica Frank.
Curth’s determination and speed, combined with a fondness for the physical aspect of the game, allowed the Wildcats to use her wherever was needed the most, be it up front when a goal was required or in the back when preventing one was the objective.
“She’s a valuable talent anywhere on the field,” Bueno said.
Curth is uncertain if she will continue playing competitive soccer as she seeks a career in nursing or physical therapy.
As for that decision to leave cross country, Curth said she has no regrets. When the girls won the 3A state title in November in Tallahassee, Curth was there to cheer for her former teammates as they crossed the finish line.
“I was very happy for them,” she said.