Ava Cronin
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Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

GIRLS SOCCER: 10 players to keep an eye on this fall

These 10 players are poised for big years on the soccer pitch.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

After a near three-month hiatus, high school sports are back in Southern Ohio … thankfully.

Wheelersburg’s Mia Vastine helped the Pirates win 10 games last season.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

The fall calendar brings promise in our area as several programs always seem to turn late-season momentum into historic postseason runs. That’s especially true on the soccer pitch.

Last fall, we had two girls programs win district titles while Lynchburg-Clay punched a ticket to the state tournament. We expect more of the same in 2023 with rosters full of talent and expectations in place.

So as we get reacquainted with the soccer pitch, here’s a list of 10 players in our coverage area, and in no particular order, to keep an eye on this fall.

NOTE: This certainly does not mean there aren’t other players who will have great seasons. This is simply a list of 10 players we’ve randomly compiled. 

Ava Cronin, Minford

For the first time in 8 seasons, the Falcons earned a conference title last fall. They’ll be looking to defend that crown and Cronin will play a huge role in doing so. After scoring eight times and passing out 16 helpers, she returns to a talent-packed offense that’s, again, ready to explode.

Faith Donley, Fairfield

She’s the definition of a firecracker. That’s really all there is to say. Donley has been electric since day one and that didn’t change during her junior season with 25 goals and five assists. If there was ever a dark horse favorite in the SHAC, it’s Fairfield. Donley is the main reason why.

Kiera Archer, Chillicothe

Time and time again, Archer showed her ability to be an elite scorer last season. There shouldn’t be any thought of her doing otherwise as a junior. Her 30 goals were a team-high for the Cavaliers, who went 12-3-2 and won a conference title. All eyes are on her this fall.

Mia Vastine, Wheelersburg

Pound for pound, Vastine may be the toughest player on the pitch … at any point in any game. The bulldog-mentalitied defender scored seven times, helping Wheelersburg go 10-6-2 last season. She’ll be even better as a junior, helping the Pirates vie for a SOC crown.

Harlee Brand, North Adams

To say North Adams’ season in 2022 was historical is a huge understatement. The Devils were 18-2 and won their first-ever district title. Brand anchored the team with 107 saves in goal, and seemed to be literally everywhere all the time. She’s the best goalkeeper in the district.

Jade Massey, Lynchburg-Clay

There isn’t much, in any sport, that Massey can’t do. Seriously, she’d be good at playing tiddlywinks. Her 17 goals and 12 assists helped her team make another trip to the state tournament. The Mustangs are the team to beat in the SHAC. Massey is a leader of the group.

Ella Chapman, Athens

There’s a reason that Chapman was a second-team All-Ohioan and the reason is that she’s an elite player with the ability to stifle any opposing scoring threat. If Athens is to compete for a district title this season — and the Bulldogs did just that last fall — Chapman will lead the way. 

Rachael Warthman, Fairfield Union

Speed. Speed. Speed. Add in a heavy dose of agility, and you’ve got Warthman’s player profile. Fairfield Union has long been a force in the MSL soccer world. Warthman should keep the Falcons on top after 11 goals and 13 assists in 2022. She’s one of the best players in our area.

McClain’s Luca Matesic is as dangerous as they come with the ball at her feet.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

Luca Matesic, McClain

Often underrated. Never doubted. Matesic has shown her ability to find the back of the net habitually within the last three seasons. She’s a bonafide shooter that has an untaught knack to be the keeper. McClain can be an under-the-radar competitor this year. Matesic drives that bus.

Mattie Walburn, Jackson

In between the pipes for a team that finished 14-4-2 overall and 8-1-1 in the FAC, Walburn pitched 12 shutouts and earned a second-team All-Ohio nod. She was, in a word, spectacular all year long. If the Ironladies can find offense this fall, look out. Opponents won’t score many.

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