For Heidelberg senior Michelle Thorne, making the All-Europe soccer team just comes with the territory. It also runs in the family.

“It’s just a by-product of your training,” Thorne said after being named to the All-Europe first team for the second straight year. “You don’t go out trying to make the team. You just train hard for each game.”

The method certainly worked for Thorne, Heidelberg’s female athlete of the year, as well as for her younger brother, Kevin, a sophomore, who scored 13 goals for the seven-time champion Heidelberg Lions and was voted to the boys All-Europe first team for the first time.

The younger Thorne said he was slightly surprised at his selection, but not at that of his sister, with whom he grew up playing the game.

“Being a senior and having played well before, she should be [All-Europe],” he said, but his sister wasn’t viewing a repeat selection as routine.

“It’s still an honor. It means a lot,” said Thorne, who was joined by Heidelberg teammates Megan Brousseau and Rebeccah Drennan, SHAPE’s Ana Vasquez, Patch’s Haley Mitchem and Ramstein’s Evie Callaghan and Andra Vanderneck as repeat first-team players.”

Thorne’s play meant a lot to Heidelberg coach Jim McCauley, who was on the panel selecting the team with Tom Manuel of Patch and Bill Belmear of Ramstein.

“Her leadership on the field is unsurpassed,” McCauley said of Thorne. “She can dribble, pass, shoot with either foot and has a very strong sense of the game. She’s a great, great soccer player who goes out of her way to help others and the team.”

It’s the perfect attitude for a midfielder, and Thorne relishes her role in that position.

“You get to play offense and defense,” Throne said, adding that the game situation determines which aspect of the game she enjoys most.

“In a close game, you’re guarding the best forward on the other team, trying to keep her from scoring,” Thorne said. “In other games you can take more chances on the attack.”

No game has been any closer for Heidelberg in the past three championship seasons than this season’s pair of one-goal victories over arch-rival Ramstein, the last one 2-1 in overtime last month for Heidelberg’s third straight crown.

“Those games are always exciting,” Thorne said. “We’re biting our nails out there, and you tell yourself, ‘If I can just make a goal, it’ll really help.’ It’s fun.”

Thorne put herself in a position to help Heidelberg win by playing year-round soccer — in a German league and Olympic Development Program summer camps in the States — for the past two years.

“ODP is really humbling,” Thorne laughed. “Those girls are just so good. I can keep up with them for about a minute or so.”

And German soccer?

“It’s definitely a different ball game,” she said. “It’s a different level of play. The Germans have a different approach to the game.”

Thorne’s next approach to the game will come next season at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

“I hope to play ball there,” she said. “I’ve talked to the coach and she’s sending me conditioning tips and strategies."

Mount Holyoke’s gain is Heidelberg’s loss, but Thorne thinks there won’t be that much of a drop-off, even with the Drennan sisters departing the scene, too.

“It’s a bittersweet farewell,” she said, “but we have [All-Europeans] Megan Brousseau and Denisse Rivera coming back. They’ll be all right.”

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