Yet again this year, the girls soccer stars of our area showed that they don't make them any better than ours from Fayette County. Of our six high schools in Fayette, four qualified for the state playoffs, three reached the quarterfinals, two made the finals, and one was the champion. Starr's Mill and McIntosh played for the state title, continuing the almost yearly tradition of an all-Fayette final. The Lady Chiefs avenged their regular season finale loss with a 4-1 win in the title game. That makes it three championships in four years and nine titles overall for the McIntosh girls' team.
On top of the great years from McIntosh and Starr's Mill, Sandy Creek and Our Lady of Mercy also reached the playoffs. Our Lady of Mercy, in particular, broke new ground for their team, winning the region for the first time and advancing to the state quarterfinals.
As always, there were a host of supremely talented girls who could've been deserving of top honors. One player ended up the top choice. Molly Moroney of Starr's Mill is the Player of the Year. Moroney piled up 33 goals and 14 assists this year to key the Panther attack. She finishes her time at Starr's Mill number four in school history in career points. Moroney has signed to play soccer at the University of Alabama next year.
"Molly was an outstanding asset to our team this year," said her coach, John Bowen. "She was an excellent team captain, setting a great example for future Panthers, and worked tirelessly to help our team increase our potential as a group and as individuals. She asked a lot of her teammates, encouraged them and helped them lift their game while earning her teammates respect. Molly was a determining factor in the success we have had the last two years. She will be missed but leaves a legacy of success and has helped to develop individuals to fill her roles next season."
So much team success makes it awfully tough again to finalize coaching honors. You could make an especially good case for the three coaches who took their teams deep into the playoffs. Ultimately the one hoisting the trophy is the winner. Marcia Clark of McIntosh is the Coach of the Year. Clark's Lady Chiefs battled through a brutal region all the way to another state championship. Despite finishing third in a three-way tie for the region title, Clark's squad went on the road throughout the playoffs before reaching their ultimate goal.
The All-County first team is a pretty special bunch.
The forwards are made up of Moroney and McIntosh's Martha Trimbach and Amanda Bartholomew. Trimbach, a junior, and Bartholomew, a senior, were key cogs in the Chief offense that powered the way to a state title.
The midfield consists of McIntosh's Amy Brewer and Starr's Mill's Carly Pressgrove and Sarah Yoss. Brewer, a senior, keyed the McIntosh push, while Pressgrove, a junior, tallied four goals and five assists and Yoss, a senior, put up nine goals and seven assists for the Panther attack.
The defense is made up of Starr's Mill's Dylan Patterson, Sandy Creek's Emma Presberg, and McIntosh's Taylor Dowse and Cecily Hartman. Patterson, a junior, sparked a Panther defense that racked up 12 shutouts. Presberg, a senior captain, headed up the defense for Sandy Creek as they made a playoff push. Dowse, a senior, and Hartman, a junior, stopped opposing offenses in their tracks all season.
The All-County keeper is Hannah Graham. Graham, a junior, showed tremendous grit in net for McIntosh, playing most of the playoffs on a broken foot as she helped her team to the championship.
The All-County second team is also a dangerous collection of talent.
The forwards are Nahyo Jalajel of Our Lady of Mercy, Emily Peterson of Whitewater, and Sophia Bonser. Jalajel, a senior, sparked the Bobcats to a deep run in the playoffs. Peterson, a freshman, was the Wildcats' leading scorer with 19 goals and 12 assists. Bonser, a freshman, racked up 21 goals and four assists for the Patriots.
The midfield is made up of Our Lady of Mercy's Sarah McBride and McIntosh's Rachel Green and Jackie Gray. Green, a senior, and the two juniors were vital in their teams' excellent seasons.
The defense consists of Rachel Catlett of Starr's Mill and Morghan Sumpter of Fayette County along with Our Lady of Mercy's Meghan Lowther and Sabrina Gaitan. Catlett and Lowther, both seniors, are joined by Sumpter, a junior, and Gaitan, a sophomore, in a fearsome back line.
The keeper is Paige Betsill of Starr's Mill. Betsill, a junior, had an exceptional season in goal, piling up 12 shutouts with a 0.67 goals against average.
There are still so many talents players left that earned Honorable Mention honors. Starr's Mill's honorees are Leslie Logan and Riley Clark. Whitewater honors Claire Messina. Sandy Creek honors Allison Shiraef. Fayette County's honorees are LeeAnna Vu and Devyn Smith.