Eagle junior tops Independent’s Girls’ Soccer All-Star Team
ADDISON COUNTY — No banners will be raised by local girls’ high school soccer teams after this fall, but three local squads hosted and won playoff games, including Otter Valley for the first time in program history.
Although the Otters also enjoyed their first-ever winning season and are well-represented on the 2015 Addison Independent Girls’ Soccer All-Star Team, the Independent Co-Player of the Year suited up elsewhere: Mount Abraham junior Ernesta McIntosh.
McIntosh’s scoring and midfield work helped Coach Dustin Corrigan’s Eagles bounce back from a 2-6 start to finish 9-7 and earn a share of the Lake Division title. Three of her Eagle teammates join her on the Independent squad.
Coach Wendy Leeds’ Middlebury squad also overcame a tough opening to their season (2-4-1) to post a 9-6-1 mark and tie the Eagles for the Lake crown. Four Tigers who helped MUHS up and down the field are honored here.
Coach Rick Hedding’s Otters made the most of a move to Division III by posting a 10-6 mark that eclipsed the program’s previous record for wins by three games. A fearless goalie, a sparkplug defender, a key playmaker and a high scorer made the Independent team.
Co-coaches Dwight Irish and Peter Maneen’s Vergennes team won four times and were competitive in many others despite inexperience and a series of devastating injuries. A veteran — and versatile — senior mainstay earned recognition here.
Selections were made based on observation, consultation with the coaches, and statistics. Congratulations to the following:
ERNESTA MCINTOSH, MOUNT ABE JUNIOR, INDEPENDENT PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Splitting time between central midfield and then later in the season at striker, scored 10 goals and assisted on 16 to figure in 26 of the Eagles’ 37 goals … Tireless, fast and skilled player who excels in all facets of the game, scoring, distributing and defending … Scored in all five games after moving to striker, totaling seven of her goals … Named the Lake Division Offensive Player of the Year.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “Some of the performances she gave were awe-striking, the stuff she was doing out there … She has incredible stamina … She could play 80 minutes and play 80 more … She’s just kind of the whole package, just a well polished soccer player. She’s got the technical ability. She’s got the athleticism. She’s got the one-v-one flair … When playoff time comes around, or when things get a little more high stakes, she does seem to step up, that’s when she really performs the best.”
KELSEY SMITH, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Four-year starter, mostly on defense, for the Tigers … Mostly a midfielder this season, stepped into the attack for the first time late this fall and led the Tigers with seven goals, adding four assists … Two-time all-state player who was the 2014 Lake Division Defensive Player of the Year … All-around player who has the complete package — stamina, technical ability, work rate, field vision and, as a two-time Tiger captain, leadership.
Leeds’ Quotes: “She was a rock in the back of the field for three years … I moved her to midfield this year, and then late in the season to forward, and her response was immediate … She has an unparalleled work ethic, and demonstrates a flexible mindset, great creativity and composure under pressure, and a superb first touch … She was a four-year leader on and off the field.”
JESSE MCKEAN, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Consistent, smart and virtually error-free central defender who played a major role in limiting Eagle foes to 17 goals in 15 games … Accomplished soccer player with the ability to see the field and make good decisions with the ball, even when facing pressure from opponents … Good one-v-one defender and organizer of the defense.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “She’s very steady, and technically she’s very good … She’s probably better than just about any player that I saw all season under pressure with the ball at her feet … She’s a very good central midfielder as well … She’s very good at anticipating at what the opposition is doing … She kept the play in front of us very well, and that was key in our success.”
HELEN ANDERSON, MUHS SOPHOMORE. Notes: Wasted no time making her presence felt as a strong, two-way first-year player at central midfield … Made opposing midfielders miserable with relentless pressure and ball-winning … Had the skills and vision to move the ball and create opportunities for herself and her teammates, and recorded five goals and an assist.
Leeds’ Quotes: “She was an impact player all season both offensively and defensively … She was one of the strongest on the team on both sides of the ball … No one works harder than Helen to win the ball back … She distributes the ball well, and can finish … She’s a student of the game … She’s a leader on the team in terms of focus, attitude, and competitive intent.”
ANDI BOE, MUHS SOPHOMORE. Notes: Tremendously skilled and quick forward who scored three times and used her understanding of the game to set up six goals … Took most of the Tigers’ corner kicks and many restarts near the goal and struck them well … Earned Division I all-state honors this fall as a sophomore.
Leeds’ Quotes: “She’s our go-to player for corners and free kicks … She has a great foot and knows how to make things happen on the attack and where to put the ball … She’s an unselfish and superb distributor … She has superior touch on the ball and is effective under pressure … She’s incredibly competitive but always sportsmanlike, a class act.”
OLIVIA DREW, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Quick, opportunistic scorer who led all local players with 13 goals and chipped in a second-best nine assists … Struck the ball well, had a nice touch, and had the speed to get behind defenders and the game sense to find open spaces … Relentless on the attack with a high work rate.
Hedding’s Quotes: “She’s a great player, just dynamic … She plays hard all the time … She has the mindset to want to score, and that’s hard to teach … I’m more impressed with the assist number … I like the combination of having both those numbers up this year … This year she conceptually understood the game.”
JILLIAN FLANDERS, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Fast, smart and determined defender who anchored the OV back line … Did well at organizing and calling OV’s offsides trap … Had the speed to run down opponents from behind and to support her teammates … Played the ball effectively out of the back … Fared well this fall despite nagging injuries.
Hedding’s Quotes: “She was definitely our best defender, without a doubt … She’s so hungry to stop the ball. She wants to compete all the time … She started looking more to push the ball up instead of just trying to stop the ball. She would become the first attacker, basically … She contains really well, tackles really well … She’s got her eyes up and finds open players.”
LEXI HEDDING, OV SENIOR. Notes: Playing mostly forward and some defensive midfield when needed there, scored nine goals and added five assists despite missing three games with an injury … Heady, skilled and quick player whose ball movement helped spark much of the OV attack … Named to the D-III all-state team.
Coach Hedding’s Quotes: “She sees the field very well and consistently makes great passes. Technically, she’s the best passer on the team … In the midfield she would have really shined … She can track back and defend well … We had a couple games that were close and I actually pulled her back as a deep mid because realistically she’s our best defender.”
LYDIA PITTS, MOUNT ABE SOPHOMORE. Notes: Tremendous athlete who popped in 11 goals and added four assists … Moved around from striker to flank midfield and fared best using her speed on the left side … Strong server from the flank who scored most of her goals by touching the ball past or taking through passes behind defenders.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “She’s so fast, and obviously speed causes problems … She can strike a ball really well with either foot … Other teams just couldn’t stay with her … She could also put opposing defenders under a lot of pressure … Her work rate was terrific just to get after it and pressure the ball. She could force defenses to make mistakes.”
KAREENA VORSTEVELD, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Four-year starter for the Commodores who enjoyed a solid senior season despite playing through an early injury … Evolved from a marking back into a player who this year — willingly at the request of VUHS coaches after injuries struck — played well at four different positions: offensive midfield, defensive midfield, central defense, and some striker … Team leader who scored once, a game-winner at Randolph, and added two assists.
Irish’s Quotes: “If anything stands out it’s her work rate from start to finish in a game. It’s the same in the 80th minute as it is in the first minute … Her competitiveness and willingness to take on any player and willingness to battle for any ball are things you need in a player … She earned the captainship … The other girls definitely looked up to her … If your senior player is willing to play wherever, it shows the younger players, well, when the coaches ask us to do this, this is what you do.”
CLAIRE ARMSTRONG, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Speedy, determined defender with solid ball and distribution skills … Two-time all-state player and three-year starter for the Tigers … Triggered offense with smart passing out of the back and well-struck restarts and picked up an assist … Team captain as a senior and a two-time all-state player.
Leeds’ Quotes: “She’s a brilliant defender … She shows tremendous decision-making and confidence on one-v-one … She plays the big and small ball out of the back equally well … We can count on her to generate a quick counterattack … She has great power on the free kick, never stops moving, and always has a ball at her foot in practice.”
ZOE CASSELS-BROWN, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Top-notch goalie who was injured early on and missed four-plus games … Returned to play eight-plus games as a key link at central midfield … Showed excellent defensive, ball-winning and distribution skills and picked up four goals and four assists to help the Eagle late-season surge … Has a tremendous understanding of the game and plans to play goalie at the next level.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “She’s going to be the hardest one to replace … She’s a very good ball-winner. She’s tough … She’s got a really good sense of where the attacking space is … Once we were able to put her in central midfield it opened the game up a lot for us.”
GABRIELA POALINO, OV SOPHOMORE. Notes: Tall, strong and fearless keeper who saved 154 shots this season and snuffed as many threats by ranging far off her goal line to knock the ball away from attackers or snare balls served into the box … Her teammates trusted her skills to handle balls played back to her … Displayed sticky hands and quickness and range.
Hedding’s Quotes: “For being a sophomore she’s absolutely incredible … She probably had as many stops as she had saves … She has natural ability, definitely … She’s very athletic and adjusted very quickly … She’s really soccer-smart in understanding the next two moves down the field ahead of time … She made really good decisions. Sometimes they would scare you a little bit, but they were really good decisions.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].