Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
One regional finalist, three district champions, and a handful of sectional title winners … needless to say, this past girls soccer season — one that was in doubt at one time — was as successful as they come.
Southern Ohio Sports Authority was right there every step of the way, covering individual milestones, improbable feats and wins that changed history.
After a fun-filled year, take a look at our All-Area team, which consists of 25 area players who were at their best throughout the fall season.
Annie Coriell | Sophomore | Midfielder | Wheelersburg
In her sophomore season, Coriell earned captain status and continued to develop into one of the region’s best all-around talents. She scored six goals and passed out 14 assists while winning one-on-one matchups with ease. The Pirates usually won the battle of possession and Coriell was central to that fact. Next fall, you can expect her to pick up where she left off.
Ellie Curtis | Senior | Forward | Northwest
Saying that Ellie Curtis paced the Mohawks’ offense would be a magnificent understatement. The senior forward not only led Northwest in scoring, but set a new single-season scoring record with 25 goals. While Northwest experienced growing pains, finishing 5-9-1, Curtis was the one constant the team relied on. She was an all-conference and all-district selection as well.
Natasha Davidson | Junior | Defender | Lynchburg-Clay
Here’s a statistic: the Lynchburg-Clay’s defense surrendered just 15 goals in 21 matches. Opponents averaged 0.71 goals per game and the Mustangs pitched 11 shutouts. Natasha Davidson was a huge reason why. The junior earned all-SHAC honors and was the Southeast District’s D-III Player of the Year. She helped the Mustangs win 16 games and a district title.
Laney Eller | Senior | Forward | Wheelersburg
When Eller had an open look at the goal, nine times out of ten, she lit up the scoreboard.
She was the Pirates’ top scoring option all year long and when they played over the top, she provided the exclamation point. A mix of speed and power helped the senior captain score a team-high 26 goals alongside 10 assists. Her efforts helped Wheelersburg finish 15-4-1 overall.
Addie Erslan | Senior | Midfielder | Chillicothe
Owning just about any postseason accolade you can earn, Erslan is one of the top-tier players in Southeast Ohio. As the only senior on her team this fall, the FAC and District POY scored 21 goals and passed out nine assists while leading Chillicothe to a 14-3 mark. She ends her career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 111 goals and legacy of success firmly in place.
Sydney Free | Senior | Goalkeeper | Unioto
There’s not much to say about Free that hasn’t already been said. Put simply, she’s the best goalkeeper to ever come out of Ross County and, quite possibly, the best to ever come out of Southern Ohio. She’s at least in the conversation. Free pitched 13 shutouts, upping her career total to 35, and kept the Shermans in almost every ballgame. The Tanks will certainly miss her.
Alexis Guffey | Senior | Midfielder | Zane Trace
It didn’t matter where Guffey played. She was one of the best players on the field. The senior constantly showed her versatility while seemingly adapting to a new challenge each game. Guffey led the team in scoring and earned both all-conference and all-district nods. She was relentless with the ball at her feet, setting the tone from beginning to end for the Pioneers.
Braylie Jones | Senior | Midfielder | North Adams
We’ve become accustomed to seeing Braylie Jones play well. So when she did that all season long, no one was surprised. Jones led the Green Devils to 12 wins and a district final appearance, a match where they fell to Lynchburg-Clay in overtime. The senior scored 12 goals and passed out 12 assists en route to all-conference and all-district honors.
Ellie Kallner | Senior | Midfielder | Wheelersburg
The intangibles. That’s what Ellie Kallner has. The senior provided a source of leadership all year long as she led the Pirates to a district championship, the program’s fourth in the past five seasons. Statistically, she tallied 12 goals and five assists. But it’s what she did that didn’t reach the box score that mattered the most. The Pirates followed their captain through thick and thin.
Haley Knore | Sophomore | Forward | Minford
The future is bright at Minford and Haley Knore is the protagonist of that developing story. Just a sophomore, Knore helped the Falcons finish 7-7-3 and stun Rock Hill for a sectional title win. She was always near the goal with the ball at her feet, scoring a team-high 34 goals alongside eight assists. She accounted for 64.2 percent of the team’s scoring and will only get better.
Rylee Leonard | Sophomore | Forward | Eastern Brown
With a knack for finding the back of the net, Leonard powered Eastern Brown’s offense to a district final appearance … including five goals in a district semifinal win over Alexander. The sophomore led the team with 23 goals alongside 10 assists and made a habit of putting pressure on opposing defenses. Her tenacity will pace the Warriors’ success in the near future.
Gemma Maimone | Sophomore | Forward | Chillicothe
As a freshman, Maimone emerged as a go-to scoring option for the Cavaliers. As a sophomore, she did nothing but further that thought while barraging defenses. She ended the year with a team-high 23 goals alongside four assists. There’s no doubt that, moving forward, she’ll be one of the team’s best scorers … consistently drawing attention and marks from opponents.
Ali Mathis | Freshman | Midfielder | Chillicothe
Pound for pound, Mathis just may be the best freshman on the pitch in Southern Ohio. While she learned important lessons from the older girls on her team, Mathis proved she absolutely belonged at the varsity level from the jump. She scored 20 goals and tallied four assists en route to all-conference and all-district nods. Believe the hype. Mathis’ ceiling is sky high.
Sierra Mitten | Senior | Forward | Southeastern
When you talk about the best purebread scorers in Ross County history, Sierra Mitten has to be at the top of the list. Why? Because she’s literally at the top of the list. Mitten ended her career with a county record 116 goals and scored in bunches this past fall … including seven and eight-goal games, which is also a county record. She leaves a humongous pair of shoes to fill.
Loren Moran | Senior | Forward | Waverly
When the ball landed at Moran’s feet, good things consistently happened. That’s been true in each of the past four seasons, where she’s developed into one of the area’s best. The co-SOC Offensive POY scored 30 goals this fall and added 16 assists. She was an important piece to a team that went 14-3-1 and 8-0-1 in the SOC … the program’s first-ever outright SOC title.
Kerigan Pollard | Senior | Forward | McClain
Per usual, Pollard spent the fall giving opposing defenses fits. Meanwhile, her Tigers knocked down multiple program barriers. Pollard led the team to seven wins, the most in program history in a single season, and its first-ever tournament victory, a 2-1 win over Circleville. She scored 31 goals and passed out five assists, ending her career with 116 goals, also a program record.
Brandy Robinson | Senior | Midfielder | Unioto
When Unioto needed a score the most, it seemed like it was always Robinson who provided the fireworks. There were multiple games where, without her, a win probably wasn’t in the cards. After becoming a legitimate scoring threat as a junior, she continued to show the ability to score from anywhere on the pitch. She was an all-league and all-district selection for good reason.
Raelynn Ruble | Junior | Midfielder | Lynchburg-Clay
If you didn’t know Ruble’s name before the season started, you should’ve when all was said and done. If you were paying attention at all, you already know that Ruble was one of the Mustangs’ best all-around players … both on and off the stat sheet. Ruble ended her junior season with 14 goals and a team-high 15 assists. She’s back next year. Expect the same high level of play.
Abi Seals | Senior | Defender | Unioto
The 2019 SVC Player of the Year continued her dominant play on the defensive side as a senior. Seals was a huge reason why the Shermans gave up just one goal in league play and won a third district title in the past four seasons. Since bursting onto the scene as a freshman, she’s been widely considered as one of the area’s best defensive players. Nothing’s changed.
Zoiee Smith | Senior | Forward | Waverly
If there’s a scoring record that Smith doesn’t own in Pike County, we have yet to see it. The speedy senior forward led the Tigers in goals this season, scoring 37 times, and passed out 17 assists. Those numbers helped the Tigers win 14 games and claim their second straight Southern Ohio Conference title. The co-SOC Offensive POY ends her career with 117 goals.
Taylor Thorpe | Senior | Forward | Jackson
Once again, Thorpe was the driving force behind an offense that could be lethal at times. The senior captain and all-district selection scored 19 times and passed out a team-high 11 assists. Thorpe’s totals, combined with her knack for scoring and ability to outrun defenders helped Jackson win 12 games, compete for an FAC title and beat a handful of quality opponents.
Karlie Tipton | Sophomore | Forward | Lynchburg-Clay
With speed like none other on the edge, Tipton made a hobby of blazing past defenders. The left-footed sophomore tallied a team-leading 22 goals and tallied seven assists. That helped the Mustangs win the SHAC title, with an undefeated record in league play, and reach the Elite 8. Moving forward, with Tipton on its roster, Lynchburg-Clay will be a force to be reckoned with.
Emma Whaley | Senior | Forward | Ironton St. Joe
Whaley was basically a walking goal all season. The All-Ohio senior has been and continued to be a bonafide threat to beat the keeper with the ball at her feet. While the Flyers enjoyed a season that included 12 wins and a sectional championship, Whaley ended her career in style. She scored 45 goals and passed out 12 assists, further cementing her legacy at ISJ.
Amelia Willis | Senior | Midfielder | Waverly
There may not be a player in the area that’s as tough as Amelia Willis. There’s no finesse to her game. She chooses to run through opponents. Her never-say-die mentality kept the Tigers in multiple games this season. The senior finished with 30 goals, eight assists and 27 steals. She was a valuable part to a team that won 14 games and its first-ever outright conference title.
Caitlyn Wills | Senior | Midfielder | Eastern Brown
Wills was as flexible as they come, spending time in multiple positions throughout the season. She was the team’s leader every step of the way. The captain and SHAC Player of the Year scored nine goals and had four assists, but did so much more that didn’t appear on the stat sheet. She was the heart and soul of a team that reached a district championship match.
Honorable Mention Selections
Michaela Rhoads, Waverly; Kylie Smith, Waverly; Jocelyn Tilley, Wheelersburg; Brynley Preston, Wheelersburg; Mychal Cron, Minford; Mary Litzinger, Eastern Brown; Hunter Grooms, North Adams; Karissa Buttelwerth, North Adams; Sierra Benney, Lynchburg-Clay; Azyiah Williams, Ripley; Kirsten Evans, Jackson; Jaidyn McKell, Unioto; Arielle Pelletier, Unioto; Olivia MacCrae, Piketon; Mahaley Farmer, Westfall