Mount Abe’s Ober leads all-star soccer picks

ADDISON COUNTY — The local high school girls’ soccer teams saw mixed results, with two reaching playoff semifinals; sadness, with three key players lost to season-ending injuries; and fine individual performances, the best of which are recognized here in the 2017 Addison Independent Girls’ Soccer All-Star team.
The best team and individual performance belonged to Mount Abraham. Senior center midfielder Casey Ober played an important role in helping Coach Dustin Corrigan’s Eagles win 12 times and reach the Division II semifinal, and Ober is the 2017 Addison Independent Player of the Year. Three other talented Eagles join Ober on the Independent squad.
Coach Wendy Leeds’ Middlebury squad enjoyed the next-best record, posting seven wins despite losing senior all-state player Andi Boe to injury early on. Boe did enough in five games to earn her fourth spot on an Independent team in as many years, and two other Tiger seniors join her.
Co-coaches Dwight Irish and Peter Maneen’s young Vergennes group suffered similar blows, seeing sophomore all-state athlete Emily Rooney go down with a season-ending injury halfway through the campaign and losing two-time leading scorer Ciara McClay, a junior, in the preseason. The Commodores hung together and picked up two playoff victories to finish with six wins and reach a D-III semifinal. Rooney and an invaluable defender are honored here.
Coach Rick Hedding’s young Otters were hit hard by graduation, but played good team ball, finished strong and won five times. A versatile senior makes her third appearance on the Independent team, and a high-scoring sophomore makes her debut.
Selections were made based on observation, consultation with the coaches and statistics. Honorable mentions were added this year because balanced play and talent on the teams led to tough omissions.
Congratulations to the following:
CASEY OBER, MOUNT ABE SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Skilled, relentless two-way team leader at center midfield who tied for the local and team lead in points with 12 goals and six assists … Recorded three goals and three assists in the Eagles’ two playoff victories, including the decisive overtime goal in the quarterfinal … Physical ball-winner and strong defender with the ability and vision to set up teammates with short passing or strike longer balls over the top … Three-year varsity player and tri-captain this fall.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “She was definitely the one player you had to have on the field as much as possible … She really set the tone and was the heart of the team and the engine that would drive us … She’s got a ton of ability. She’s very good on the dribble. She can score … She also will do whatever is needed for her teammates to be successful … She always had an inspirational speech written for her teammates just in case they needed it. I’ve never had a player like that who came that prepared … She was certainly our MVP.”
HELEN ANDERSON, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Smart, gritty and talented two-way center middie who always made her presence felt all over the field … Scored twice and recorded a local high of 11 assists with clever ball movement … Strong defender who consistently disrupted opponents at midfield and won battles for the ball … Two-time all-state player and team leader and captain who finished her three-year varsity career with 15 goals and 18 assists.
Leeds’ Quotes: “She is absolutely tireless and relentless on both sides of the ball … She is an excellent leader and captain … No one works harder or sets the bar higher … Helen is a game-changer. Her work rate is unparalleled. She sets the pace … She takes lost chances and half-chances and turns them into attacking and scoring opportunities for her teammates.”
GABRIELA POALINO, OV SENIOR. Notes: Terrific athlete who enjoyed another outstanding season in the OV goal, racking up 130 saves in 11 games behind a rebuilt defense … Fearless goalie who roams far off her line to snuff breakaways and break up threats … Strong punter and smart distributor who finished with more than 300 career saves … Also made the best of her four games at striker this fall, using her skills and vision to score five goals and set up two scores.
Hedding’s Quotes: “She’s a true athlete who absolutely thrives on competition, which is what makes her such a force both in the goal and out … Her uncanny ability to read and react to what is happening is something that cannot be taught … As a goalkeeper she is truly the reason we are in each and every game … Much of our team’s success is based on team chemistry, and as one of two captains she is pivotal in fostering team unity and a positive environment.”
LYDIA PITTS, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Four-year standout for the Eagles who capped her career by tying for the local and team lead in points with 12 goals and six assists … Her two playoff goals included a late strike to send the quarterfinal into OT … Versatile player who played wing midfield and striker this season and for most of her career and mostly flank back as a junior … Speedy, strong and athletic with solid skills, a four-year all-state player and two-year captain.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “She’s fast, and she can also strike the ball really well with her right foot … If she gets in behind the defense there’s no catching her … She did get better this year on the dribble, and she was pretty dangerous just running at people … She’s definitely versatile … She always tracked defensively, too, and she’s good defensively … I don’t often have girls who captain a team as a junior … I have to give her a lot of credit just for her leadership.”
EMILY ROONEY, VUHS SOPHOMORE. Notes: Was leading the Commodores with five goals and two assists in eight games from a central offensive midfield position before injury … Poised, quick and skilled player who wins 50-50 battles for the balls, sets up teammates, strikes the ball well with either foot, and defends tenaciously … Three-year varsity player who debuted as an 8th-grader.
Maneen’s Quotes: “Emily is without a doubt one of the best players in our league … She’s like a second coach out on the field. She doesn’t just play the game, she really knows the game … She’s able to make adjustments during the game because she just sees it differently than everybody else … She’s got a great first touch … Her head is always up, and she can use either foot … She’s a ball winner. She goes into tackles the way you want players to go into tackles.”
ANDI BOE, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: In four-plus games at offensive midfield before going down with her injury racked up seven goals and four assists … Three-time Division I all-state athlete and two-way player who blended skills, speed, savvy, unselfish play and determination … Three-sport standout who stayed with the Tigers to provide leadership and support after she was hurt.
Leeds’ Quotes: “Andi is a phenomenal athlete and player … She has a high soccer acuity and is extremely technical and skilled … She’s excellent under pressure and versatile … She’s a tremendous person, captain and leader, and a well-loved teammate … She can break down complexities of a fast-paced game and deliver feedback in a way that is simple, positive and clearly communicated … She became like a third coach on the sidelines.”
JENNA MCARDLE, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Strong, skilled and versatile player who this year settled in at stopper and helped anchor a defense that posted eight shutouts and only three times allowed more than two goals … Excelled at reading opponents’ attacks, winning balls and distributing from the back … Particularly good in the air … Stepped up offensively, especially on corner kicks, and contributed two goal and two assists.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “She’s a very capable center mid, but she was so valuable in the back we couldn’t have her out of the backfield for long … She’s very strong, excellent at winning the ball in the air, winning duels on the ball … When the ball is around her, you can count on her coming away with it, and that’s huge …  Just nothing gets by her … She wouldn’t just win the ball and send it away. She would win the ball and find the forwards with it.”
SOPHIE HATCH, VUHS SOPHOMORE. Notes: Steady, smart reliable center back who excelled at the key elements of defense, holding her own one-on-one, anticipating, reading passing lanes and supporting teammates … Had the skills and touch on the ball to handle pressure in the back and make good decisions with the ball … Chosen by the coaches as the Commodores’ season MVP.
Maneen’s Quotes: “I would call Sophie an unsung hero … She rarely did the wrong thing. She read the plays really well. One v. one defending she was very good … She’s just a really, really smart player … She would know where that open player was and we would be able to start attacks from her out of the back … She’s a very patient, very skilled player, and as the year went on we really saw her grow in confidence … We needed her on the field all the time.” 
ABBY MANSFIELD, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Skilled, gritty and creative striker and tri-captain who, despite not ever being fully healthy this fall, contributed six goals and five assists … Scored three times and set up two goals in the Eagles’ playoff wins, including a goal and clever assists on the tying and winning strikes in their 3-2 overtime quarterfinal victory … Mount Abe won eight straight when she was healthy enough to return to the starting lineup.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “At the end of the season when things were high stakes we needed her out there … She can draw the defense to her and find the attacking spaces for someone else … When she gets the ball she makes some stuff happen … She’s very strong, and it’s deceptive how quickly she can get to a ball and be strong and win it … She’s definitely a gamer. Especially when the match is on the line she’s going to give you everything she’s got … She’s a difference-maker.”  
ISABEL ROSENBERG, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Fast and physical finisher up front who paced the Tigers with nine goals and three assists … Thrived at striker after two seasons as a flank midfielder for MUHS … Showed poise, determination, quickness and a strong foot in the box, worked hard to win the ball back, and provided valuable leadership.
Leeds’ Quotes: “Isabel is the complete package … She’s an impactful presence on the field … She’s strong, skilled, hard-working, athletic, consistent and poised … She’s a student of the game, tremendously coachable … She is absolutely unparalleled when it comes to consistent play, integrity, sportsmanship and leadership.”
JULIA EASTMAN, OV SOPHOMORE. Notes: Tireless and talented forward who took a step forward this fall and tied for the local high with 12 goals and set up three scores … Had the skills to take on defenders one-v-one and a hard shot … Unselfish player who keeps her head up on the attack and moves the ball well.
Hedding’s Quotes: “Over the last two years I have seen marked improvement in ball control and skill … She’s a testament that if you work hard you will get better and do so very quickly … She regularly makes people miss tackles and can go around girls in what seems like almost at will at times … Julia has the awareness to see the field and know whether to pass or shoot … All these things, plus some really good foot skills, create an awesome soccer player.”   
HONORABLE MENTION: Emma Carter and Emma LaRose, Mount Abe; Ada Anderson, MUHS; Kaitlyn Brace, VUHS; Leah Pinkowski, OV. 

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