SMYRNA — Hannah Osborne can’t say she always dreamed of playing in a state championship game.
The Smyrna High girls’ soccer standout admits it wasn’t even on her radar four years ago.
The Eagles finished only 4-11 when she was in eighth grade.
“If you would have asked me going into my high school career, ‘Do you think Smyrna will ever make it to the state finals?’ I would have laughed,” said Osborne. “Definitely not.”
Yet there the senior midfielder was last week, finishing her high school career in the DIAA Division I state championship game.
“This has been seriously one of the best years of soccer I’ve ever played,” said Osborne. “I definitely will never forget it.”
But Osborne won’t only cherish this past season because Smyrna had its best season ever — going 14-4 and reaching the state finals for the first time.
It was also special because it was the one high school season in which she and her two younger sisters, Karalyn and Abigail, got to play for their dad, Mike, who is the Eagles’ head coach.
And just to top things off, Hannah capped off a stellar career by making first-team All-State for the first time.
Even the fact that Smyrna lost to powerhouse Padua, 2-1, on a last-minute goal in the state finals couldn’t take away from the season.
“Having them score in the last two minutes, it was definitely disappointing,” said Osborne. “But if you were to watch the game, they were the better team. We had a couple of chances but not a whole lot.
“So it was disappointing but I was just really thankful to even be there and get to play the game.”
A few years ago, Mike Osborne realized there might be one season when his daughters and he all got to be together on one team. But it all fell into place about as well as anyone could have expected.
“It was definitely interesting,” said Mike, who is the pastor of Smyrna’s Trinity Church. “It makes for interesting conversations before games, after games. We really enjoyed doing that as a family for sure.
“When I started coaching with Coach (Ryan) Buchanan in 2008, they were all little. I didn’t know. But after I’d done it for four or five years, I’m like ‘My kids are going to be on the team if I keep coaching.’ Then I was like, ‘Oh man, they’re all going to be on this team if things work out.’ It kind of became a thing to look forward to a couple years ago.”
“My mom (Julie) was super pumped about it,” said Hannah. “She definitely loved watching it from the stands.
“There was like two or three little ‘sister’ moments but, other than that, I really loved it. Karalyn played quite a bit this year so it was really fun to play right alongside her.”
It’s no surprise that soccer is the Osborne family sport. After college, Mike was on the roster of the Virginia Beach Mariners, a club that was a member of the United Soccer Leagues.
For as long as Hannah can remember, her dad was one of her coaches. After the family moved to Smyrna from Virginia when Hannah was five, she played in the CDSA.
While her teammates would occasionally tease her that her dad was tougher on her than the other players, Hannah said she always liked playing for him.
“It’s great,” said Hannah. “All the special moments and fun times that happen are even more special because you get to do it with him.
“I like being pushed and, if it helps me get better, I’m fine with it. And soccer is a big part of all of our lives so I know, if he wasn’t coaching me, he’d be at all my games. He’s been around the game since he was four or five so he knows a lot.”
Hannah quickly established herself in high school, netting a school freshman-record 14 goals in her first season. She made first-team All-Henlopen North as a freshman, made second-team All-State as a sophomore and then first-team All-State this spring.
For her career, Osborne finished with 42 goals and 14 assists.
“Hannah is quick, she’s intelligent and she’s competitive,” said her father. “Those are things that really make her a good player. ... She just continued to grow and climb. Every year she got better and better.
“Obviously that’s what you want to see as a coach and as a dad.”
Of course, things will change in the fall. Hannah said she will miss playing for her dad when she goes to Wilmington University to play for the NCAA Division II Wildcats.
While he won’t be on the bench, Mike does plan to be there in the stands as much as he can.
Mike realizes that things like this past season don’t happen every day for his team and his family.
“I mean it’ll be a memory as a coach for years to come,” he said. “But it’s also going to be a memory as a dad to have that one year together with all of them, training every day. Each of my kids are different and they made it really enjoyable.”
“I’ve loved every minute playing for my dad,” said Hannah. “It’s been a great four years.”