Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
One state semifinalist, three district champions, and a handful of sectional title winners … needless to say, this past girls soccer season 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 30 area players who were at their best throughout the fall season.
Lucie Ashkettle | Junior | Forward | Valley
Ashkettle is the only girl on this list that played on a boys team. And she excelled at every turn. One of three SOSA Players of the Year, Ashkettle had 10 goals and added seven assists while helping the Indians finish at 16-2-1. She was a driving force in the program’s first outright SOC I title since 2002. Expect her to top those accolades with even more success next fall.
Bryn Bledsoe | Senior | Midfielder | Hillsboro
The Indians won 12 games and a sectional title in 2021 and it simply wouldn’t have been possible without Bledsoe. The senior leader seemed to provide a calming presence when things went awry, always kept a level head and led her teammates through any adversity. She finished the year with 10 goals and eight assists and was an all-conference and all-district honoree.
Harlee Brand | Sophomore | Goalkeeper | North Adams
The future at North Adams is bright. Brand represents a gigantic reason why. The tough-nosed sophomore lived up to her reputation all year long, totaling 78 saves and six shutouts. She surrendered just 17 goals in 17 matches and helped her Green Devils win a sectional title. You can expect her to be even better in the coming years, which is bad news for opponents.
Caroline Brown | Senior | Forward | Fairfield Union
She did it all this season. It’s as simple as that. And she helped make history while doing so. Brown scored a team-high 22 goals and passed out 14 assists while leading the Falcons to their first district title since 2019. She scored one of the team’s three goals in its first-ever regional tournament victory. Brown was the District Player of the Year, as well as SOSA’s tri-POY.
Nilyn Cockerham | Junior | Forward | Circleville
At least once a game, Cockerham made a defender look silly while using her speed and agility to gain possession of the ball. Combine that with the habit of beating the goalkeeper and you’ve got a special player. She was an all-league and first-team all-district honoree. Cockerham was constantly wreaking havoc and will certainly be a frequent flyer in the penalty box next year, too.
Lexi Conkel | Freshman | Forward | Minford
While the Falcons enjoyed a 12-win season, Conkel enjoyed her coming out party. The freshman was a real scoring threat, giving Minford another option to look to. She started her career with a 19-goal, 8-assist season, painting the picture of a bright future on the horizon. Minford will be a force to be reckoned with next fall. Conkel is at the center of that storm.
Annie Coriell | Junior | Midfielder | Wheelersburg
You’ll find no better pure leader than Coriell. There’s a reason she’ll be a three-year captain at Wheelersburg — something that doesn’t happen often. Coriell led the Pirates to 14 wins and a district final appearance while logging 15 goals and 10 assists. She’s the definition of tough, she brings her A-game on a nightly basis and she’ll have one more year to terrorize opponents.
Natasha Davidson | Senior | Defender | Lynchburg-Clay
To say that Davidson was one of the best players in the district, or even the state, is an understatement. During Davidon’s four-year tenure, Lynchburg-Clay posted an overall mark of 55-14-10. That’s no coincidence. She was the leader of a defense that won three straight district crowns and one that reached four consecutive district final matches. Her value was unmatched.
Bailey Dotson | Senior | Midfielder | Eastern
If you’ve watched Dotson play, you know she brings next-level energy that seems to electrify her teammates, and she has a knack to shine in the big moments. The senior brought balance to a team that went to the Final 4 with seven goals and nine assists. She was the unquestioned emotional leader of the group and provided leadership and valued experience at every turn.
Ainsley Grooms | Sophomore | Midfielder | North Adams
There’s no shortage of talent in the Grooms family, and Ainsley represents that fact. Just a sophomore, Grooms led the Green Devils in scoring with 12 goals while they finished 10-6-1 — three of those losses came in one-goal games. While Grooms has two more years to develop her game, she’s already a known name in the SHAC. Expect her to be even better next fall.
Gracie Heath | Senior | Midfielder | Unioto
Pound for pound, Heath is and has been one of the toughest players in the district. For four years, Heath has helped the Shermans win games. That didn’t change during her senior campaign. The midfielder aided Unioto to a mark of 10-5-3, one that included yet another Gold Ball and SVC championship. The Shermans will miss Heath’s leadership and grit in the middle.
Paige Huggins | Junior | Midfielder | Chillicothe
It didn’t take long for Huggins to make a name for herself this fall. She started terrorizing opposing defenses as soon as the season started. The junior helped the 10-win Cavaliers earn a conference championship, scoring 16 goals and passing out five assists in the process. She’ll be even better next year as she continues to develop into one of the area’s best.
Haley Knore | Junior | Forward | Minford
Rather quietly, Minford had a tremendous season. Haley Knore is one of the reasons why. Knore scored 27 times alongside nine assists, once again proving herself as a bonafide weapon in the district. She was an all-conference, all-district and all-state honoree, and there’s certainly more of those accolades to come next fall. She’ll enter her senior year with 80 career goals.
Rylee Leonard | Junior | Forward | Eastern
As always, Leonard constantly acted as one of the most dangerous weapons on the field. She scored a team-high 21 goals alongside 10 assists while Eastern finished the year at 16-2-2. Leonard was an offensive catalyst for the SHAC champion Warriors and led the team to its first-ever district title. Over the past two seasons, she’s accounted for 44 goals and 20 assists.
Mary Litzinger | Senior | Forward | Eastern
Litzinger earned a ton of postseason accolades, including SHAC and SOSA Player of the Year nods. All were for good reason. The senior lit up the scoreboard all year long, scoring 19 times and passing out 23 assists. She led the SHAC in points with 61 and gave the Warriors a lift throughout their historic postseason run, scoring against Wheelersburg, Hiland and Fairbanks.
Olivia MacCrae | Junior | Forward | Piketon
When the Redstreaks needed a score, they most always looked to MacCrae to find the back of the net. The junior displayed a perfect mix of speed and agility all year long and ended the season as the SVC’s leading scorer with 24 goals alongside five assists. Those 24 scores accounted for all but 20 of the team’s total. She’ll be back next season and wreak more havoc.
Ali Mathis | Sophomore | Forward | Chillicothe
Mathis is the definition of lightning in a bottle. When the ball’s at her feet, get your popcorn ready. She’s going to put on a show. The talented sophomore forward ended her year with a team-high 17 goals alongside a pair of assists while her Cavaliers won the Frontier Athletic Conference title. She’ll enter her junior year as her team’s biggest threat with 37 career goals.
Jaidyn McKell | Senior | Defender | Unioto
For four years, McKell has been one of the best defenders in the entire Southeast District — she was voted as the top defender in the district this fall. She’s the reason why the Shermans’ defense didn’t allow a single goal in SVC action, outscoring opponents by a 45-0 margin. The Shermans will certainly miss their most complete player. She leaves a titanic void to fill.
Kylie McMahon | Junior | Midfielder | Fairfield Union
If you’re looking for a player to absolutely dominate the middle of the field, look no further than McMahon. She was proficient at that task during every match. McMahon helped the 17-win Falcons win a district title and was an all-league and all-district honoree. If the Falcons are to repeat the success they had this fall, that effort will start with McMahon next season.
Avery Miller | Senior | Midfielder | Unioto
The SVC Player of the Year led the Shermans to yet another conference title and Gold Ball while controlling the middle throughout the season. Miller has been a constant source of stability for Unioto over the past three seasons and did nothing to tarnish that reputation as a senior. Miller was an all-district selection and led the Tanks to a fourth straight double-digit win season.
Ella Newkirk | Senior | Forward | Fairfield
Speed. Speed. Speed. Newkirk is often the fastest player on the pitch and the numbers back that up. The senior led the SHAC in scoring this season with 28 goals to go alongside five assists. She was at the center of every opponents’ plan of attack and continued to shine. Fairfield will undoubtedly miss Newkirk’s on-field talent and leadership. She leaves a huge void.
Raelynn Ruble | Senior | Midfielder | Lynchburg-Clay
There’s not much left to say about Ruble that hasn’t been said yet. Her talent is often unrivaled on the pitch and that’s been well-documented. While aiding the Mustangs to their third consecutive district title, Ruble scored seven times and finished with 13 assists while consistently mystifying defenses. She ends her storied career with 36 goals and 43 assists.
Cadence Saunders | Senior | Forward | Fairfield
Of the 75 shots that Saunders took this season, 45 were on goal and 23 found the back of the net. The all-league and all-district senior also passed out 10 assists while leading the Lions to an 11-4-1 mark. Over the past two seasons, Fairfield has won 22 games and during that time, Saunders has netted 52 goals. She’s a reason why the program is headed in the right direction.
Abby Seimetz | Junior | Midfielder | Jackson
Leading Jackson to a 10-win season was Seimetz. She was the glue that kept the group on target. She was elite in the midfield while adding an offensive sprinkle into the mix as well, scoring three times and passing out seven assists. The Ironladies will return 10 starters next fall with Seimetz leading that group. If they have a ton of success, don’t be surprised.
Jocelyn Tilley | Junior | Midfielder | Wheelersburg
Tilley is one of those players that makes your jaw drop at least twice a game. The skill she displays is next level. Period. She was an offensive catalyst for the SOC champion Pirates, scoring 13 goals and passing out a team-high 24 assists. Those numbers helped her earn all-conference, all-district and all-state honors. Her senior year is destined to be a special one.
Karlie Tipton | Junior | Forward | Lynchburg-Clay
It seems as if every year, Lynchburg-Clay turns on the jets at the correct time. Tipton was a formidable part of the Mustangs’ ability to crank the heat up this year, helping the team win yet another district title. The junior scored 16 goals and passed out four assists while Lynchburg finished 10-3-7 in the midst of a gauntlet-like schedule. She’ll be back next year, looking for more.
Philomina Toca | Senior | Goalkeeper | Lynchburg-Clay
There aren’t many goalkeepers that can do what Toca has accomplished. The senior has kept a consistent pace of success going throughout her career and the statistics reflect that. This past fall, Toca made 62 saves — following a season where she totaled 91 — while pitching seven shutouts. She was the centerpiece to a defense that allowed just 19 goals in 20 matches.
Brooke Ulicny | Junior | Forward | Hillsboro
There’s a reason why Ulicny was named the FAC’s Player of the Year, and that reason is that the Indians’ junior leader was phenomenal every step of the way. Ulicny has always had a knack for finding the back of the net. But she was on another level this year, leading Hillsboro with 33 goals. In the past two seasons, she’s scored 57 goals. She’ll be looking to play add on next fall.
Torie Utter | Senior | Midfielder | Eastern
As soon as Utter joined Eastern’s program this past fall, she was a more than welcome addition. The talented midfielder scored 17 times and passed out five assists while helping the Warriors finish the year as the program’s first-ever regional champion. She ends a ridiculously successful varsity soccer career with 63 goals and 31 assists alongside a plethora of postseason honors.
Mattie Walburn | Sophomore | Goalkeeper | Jackson
While Jackson’s offense struggled at times, Walburn made a living on keeping the Ironladies in games. She was a legitimate brick wall in between the pipes, pitching five shutouts and tallying 100 saves throughout the season. Walburn was the ultimate insurance policy in goal, continuing to grow into a phenomenal keeper. She’s got two more seasons to sharpen her skills.
Honorable Mention Selections
Brooklyn Wade, Zane Trace; Jana Griffith, Miami Trace; Gemma Maimone, Chillicothe; Sarah LeFever, Jackson; Mychal Cron, Minford; Brynley Preston, Wheelersburg; Bella Miller, Wheelersburg; Kennedy Zink, Fairfield; Alyssa Perkins, Eastern; Hunter Grooms, North Adams, Kenlie Jones, North Adams; Kenedie Barnhart, Fairfield Union; Payton Ford, Circleville; Faith Yancey, Circleville; Grace Warthman, Fairfield Union