Around eighth grade, when recruiting cranked up, Maddy Bondon filled out the college questionnaires like many other girls soccer players.
Some of the questions were simple. The one that asked for her position took a little more thought.
Bondon, now a Peachtree Ridge senior, grew up as a central midfielder, but had transitioned more to defense in club soccer as she approached high school, so she listed her positions as center back and outside back.
“I’ve kind of always been a midfielder, but all my club teams have said, ‘Let’s just put Maddy at center back. We need her there,’” Bondon said. “I guess I’ve kind of developed into a defender now more than a center mid. I like to attack a lot in high school, but I feel safer and more secure in the back line. So probably like high school was when I became a true defender.”
Defense is where Bondon excelled as a junior at Peachtree Ridge, earning first-team all-county honors from the Daily Post and the Gwinnett Goal Club. She anchored a unit that posted eight shutouts.
That came on the heels of a sophomore season when she was a first-team all-county selection and the Region 6-AAAAAAA midfielder of the year. She still attacks some at the high school level, but her future, and her position of choice, is in the defense.
“I feel in control (at defense),” Bondon said. “You can direct. You can see everything in front of you. You see everyone except the goalkeeper. Being able to direct and telling people how to move and where to go, I feel in control. Offense wins games and defense wins championships. I know if I put my heart and soul on the line along with the three other people or two other people back there with me that we’re going to win. I just like to have that control for my team.”
Opponents may see Bondon at center back in high school, but the outside defender positions likely fit her better at Auburn — she signed with the Tigers in November.
“I’m kind of short for an SEC center back,” she admitted.
At the high school level, Bondon is an exceptional center back.
“Maddy is the type of player and person that every coach wants on their team,” said Peachtree Ridge girls coach Ashley Veljovic, who was an SEC soccer player at Georgia. “She is a great leader and her work ethic is always top notch. Players constantly turn to her for help and advice. She is a versatile player and adds value wherever she is on the field. She has been a major asset to our program since her freshman year. I am excited to see where she will help lead this team this season.”
Bondon has high hopes for her senior season as Peachtree Ridge mixes in a new head coach — Veljovic was promoted from assistant in the offseason — and young talent around a handful of experienced high school players.
“Definitely winning region is our main goal, then we take it one game at a time from there,” Bondon said. “We’re a young team. We had a lot of people graduate last year. We’re developing younger kids early in the season so we’re solid and we can make a run for it.”
The high school soccer experience has been enjoyable, Bondon said, for the friendships she made, for the team successes and for how it has helped her improve.
“It’s been really fun,” Bondon said. “I’ve been able to go against people who are now playing in college at KSU (Kennesaw State) like Erin Harris and Kam Downs as a freshman, that really challenged me and really showed me what a college athlete looks like. Being able to go against them and get their words of advice, as well as from Jozy Morche (who plays at Murray State), they’ve all been really great mentors for me. It’s been really fun. I’ve been able to play center mid some, being able to score goals as well as defend. Scoring is always a lot of fun. I enjoy playing in front of the crowd in high school.
“It’s sad (to finish high school). I’m happy to be a senior and I’m happy to go on. But Peachtree Ridge has been such a big part of me the last four years. I need to leave the younger kids with what Erin Harris and Kam Downs and Jozy did for me, an example of what Peachtree Ridge soccer is all about. There’s a standard. We win. I want to instill that in them and have the winning culture at Peachtree Ridge continue.”