Another year, another season of tremendous success for girls soccer around Fayette County. Five teams made the state playoffs, three reaching the quarterfinals, two the Final Four, and one winning a state championship. It’s a continuation of the domination by the local girls, as a Fayette squad has won a title now in six of the last seven seasons and 18 total since 1992.
This year, it was just too difficult to pick only one top star. Riley Clark of Starr’s Mill and Caroline Laux are Co-Players of the Year. Clark, a senior, smashed the Panther records for goals and points in a season, racking up a tremendous 36 goals and 12 assists as the team made a trip to the Final Four.
“Riley Clark was the soul of our team. Her work ethic and leadership set the standard we strive for and is the example we use on how to play the game,” said her coach, John Bowen. “Her performance in the semifinal, when she played with a rib out we found out later, just epitomized her courage and conviction to team success. She always put the team first, and when one of your best players makes those sacrifices the team excels. She was a major contributor, setting the school record for goals and points in a season and finishing fourth all-time in scoring, but her role as captain and her day-to-day focus is what made the largest impact on our squad. The fact that she showed theses characteristics in all four years just speaks volumes about her impact on our program. She is one of a kind.”
No player epitomized the playoff surge of the Chiefs on their state championship run quite like Laux. She saved her best for the most important games, leading her team in goals during the playoffs. She scored the lone goal in a 1-0 quarterfinals win, struck twice in the semifinals, and topped herself in the title game with a hat trick. “She was a terror up there,” praised Clark after the final match. “She brought it hard. She brought it fast. There was just no answer for her.”
The future of the county is in good hands with a batch of young stars, none brighter than one Tiger. Tariah Miller of Fayette County is the Freshman of the Year. Miller was simply unstoppable as she led her squad to the playoffs, blowing up scoreboards with 27 goals and eight assists, including five games with two goals and four hat tricks.
In a county filled with great leaders, the head of the tribe is the winner. Marcia Clark of McIntosh is the Coach of the Year for getting her squad back on top of the state. Clark led the Lady Chiefs to their tenth state championship, a 4-0 romp over Columbus. As excellent as the program has always been, they have been truly special in recent years, claiming titles in four of the last six seasons.
The All-County First Team is a bunch loaded with skill.
The forwards are Taylor Malasek of McIntosh, Emily Petersen of Whitewater, and Leslie Logan of Starr’s Mill. Malasek baffled opposing defenses all year as the leading scorer for the high-octane Chief attack. Petersen was the Wildcats’ top scoring threat, posting 13 goals and four assists. Logan, a senior, tallied 15 goals and 10 assists.
The midfield consists of Lauren Yoss of Starr’s Mill, Abbey Ott of McIntosh, and Cayson Greene and Ally Smithwick of Whitewater. Yoss, a senior, racked up 15 goals and 22 assists, the assists a new school single-season record. She rewrote her own share of records for the Panthers, graduating as the all-time leader in goals, assists, and points. Ott, a senior, was a force in the middle for the state champion Chiefs, battling through injury to be arguably her team’s MVP. Greene, a senior, was heart of the Wildcats. “As she plays, so plays the team,” said her coach, Randy Hayes. Smithwick, a junior, posted six goals and two assists.
The defense is made up of Peyton Lee of Whitewater, McIntosh’s Taylor Butler and Chandler Witucki, and Starr’s Mill’s Dylan Patterson and Ansley Peurifoy. Lee, a captain and four-year starter, notched eight goals and one assist. Butler and Witucki anchored a Chief defense that allowed only nine goals all season. Patterson was a fierce presence on the backend for the Panthers, striking fear into the opposition and piling up two goals and 11 assists. Peurifoy notched 12 goals and eight assists while also seeing time at forward.
Emma Fulton of Whitewater is the keeper. Fulton, a junior, posted 80 saves and 7 shutouts, perhaps her finest outing coming in a 3-1 playoff loss to St. Pius, the eventual state champions, when she kept her team in the match with a stunning 19 saves.
The All-County second team is also a dangerous collection of talent.
The forwards are Jolie Ryff of Whitewater, Melanie Mikoy of Fayette County, and Anna Wilczynski of Our Lady of Mercy. Ryff, just a freshman, used her outstanding speed to rack up 11 goals and two assists. Mikoy, a sophomore attacking midfielder, piled up 12 goals and eight assists. Wilczynski was the leading scorer for the Bobcats as they made another playoff trip.
The midfield consists of Abby Smithwick of Whitewater, Ashley Broderick of Starr’s Mill, and Veronica Cappas of McIntosh. Smithwick, a senior captain, was the spiritual leader of the Wildcats and a four-year starter. Broderick, a junior, posted seven goals and five assists as a defensive midfielder. Cappas helped direct the offense for another Chief title.
The defense is made up of Haleigh Meuninck of Whitewater, Caitlin Umila of Fayette County, Ashton Nowicki of Starr’s Mill, and Sabrina Gaitan of Our Lady of Mercy. Meuninck, an Armstrong Atlantic signee, was a four-year starter for the Wildcats. Umila, a junior, was called both a rock on defense and fearless by her coach. Nowicki, a junior, dominated in the air in attack and on defense, posting eight goals and four assists. Gaitan, a senior, anchored the backend for a Mercy playoff squad.
Ashlyn Walloch of Starr’s Mill is the keeper. Wallace, a senior, posted 15 shutouts, 32 saves, and a 1.01 goals against average.
There are still so many talents players left that earned Honorable Mention honors.
Fayette County’s honorees are Isabele Odutola and Devyn Smith. McIntosh’s honorees are Emily Lopez, Anna Brachy, Emma Whitson, Caroline Chang, and Hannah Ellison. Sandy Creek’s honorees are Sophia Bonser, Ali Shiraef, Hannah Ohlmeier, and Maddie Davis. Our Lady of Mercy’s honorees are Olivia Wells and Jordan Rheingrover.
Ed. Note: Sandy Creek did not submit nominations for the All-County Team.
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