BY THE BANNER SPORTS STAFF
For the third year in a row, we have surveyed the area, studied the game from the sideline and quizzed local coaches on the top high school girls soccer players around.
Many were worthy of recognition for their exploits this fall, but the process, ultimately, results in only a handful of honorees. Our selections should in no way diminish the outstanding performances of those not included in our squad.
While important, statistics and league honors were only partial factors in our lineup, which attempts to recognize players from all positions.
Based on the information and input we received, as well as our own observations about players' production, importance to their squad and individual skill-sets, we present the 3rd Annual Banner XI All-Star squad.
THE FIRST ELEVEN
Grace Delurey - Sr., Forward/MF - Hoosick Falls
[Player of the Year]
-- On a team that went about scoring goals -- 117 in 23 games -- like there was no tomorrow, no one was more productive than Delurey, our Banner XI Player of the Year. Notching a staggering 29 goals and 24 assists, Delurey was the offensive hub for a Hoosick Falls team that won its second state championship in as many years.
Already a proven scorer after a 20-goal junior season, Delurey, more than capable as a striker, playmaker or wide-midfielder, took her game to another level this fall.
"She's always been good at everything and she just got even better," said her coach, Tom Husser.
Powerful and skilled, her relentless playing style makes her an indispensable addition to any team.
"She's dynamic, a team leader -- no problem saying she's the player of the year," Cambridge coach Rich Sweeney said. "She has had consistency throughout the year and through her whole career."
Delurey leaves behind her Hoosick Falls jersey as the program's most decorated forward: A two-time state champion and the all-time leader in goals (67) and assists (52).
"And if she was a defender, she'd be a great defender, too," Husser said.
Shelby McLenithan - Sr., Forward - Mount Anthony
-- First-year coach Mark Boudreau said McLenithan's game-breaking ability didn't totally sink in until he and a few Patriots saw the Williams College women play this fall. "I was watching their forwards and they never had that burst of speed I was used to watching. It's not a weapon a lot of people have." Capitalizing on her unrivaled speed, McLenithan's team-best 17 goals and five assists were a key factor in MAU's resurgent 10-3-2 campaign.
Rayleen Sherman - Sr., Forward - Arlington
-- Even with Sherman on the mend from a serious knee injury in 2011, opposing defenders struggled to stop her in a 21-goal, 14-assist season. Coach Dan Wood said Arlington's go-to attacker's dedication to recovery helped cap a stellar high school career. "I'd like to say she gave more [after the injury], but she always gave 100 percent anyway. She's just ferocious."
Jordyn Haynes - Fr., Forward - Hoosick Falls
-- Most folks might associate the dangerous freshman with goals after a 33-tally, 10 assist season, but Husser says Haynes (61 career goals) is simply fun to watch. "When she had the ball it was magic -- what was she going to do this time? Wherever she's going, she's going quickly." And with three years of varsity play left, the sky remains the limit for the young, albeit seasoned, goal-scorer.
Daisy Sullivan - So., MF/F - BBA
-- Sullivan's stunning 100-yard slalom through the Mill River defense to set up a teammate for a goal on Oct. 17 would have been enough to make the team. "That's what she's capable of at almost any time," coach Dan DeForest said. "She really turned it on when we needed her to." But the versatile sophomore, splitting time between midfield and the forward line was also BBA's top scorer with seven goals and five assists.
Rachel Pine - So., Midfield - Hoosick Falls
-- Pine (14 goals, 10 assists) built on a fantastic finish to her freshman season with an all-around stellar sophomore year. A source of energy in midfield, she could win the ball, mark opponents, distribute and score, whatever the team needed, also developing into an aerial threat (six headed goals) by the end of the year. "She was everywhere" for us, Husser said.
Emma Hallett - Jr., Midfield - BBA
-- Seemingly too skilled to be limited to defense, where she excelled as a sophomore, Hallett (three goals) transitioned seamlessly into a central midfielder when injuries rocked the BBA lineup. DeForest lauded the junior's quickness, speed and fearlessness as it shored up the middle of the pitch. "She was more comfortable there, creating things and making things happen for us," DeForest said.
Erin Winseman - Sr., Defense - Mount Anthony
-- Boudreau's "quiet leader" at the back, Winseman's personality, reliability, game-reading skill and prowess cleaning up danger snuffed out any concerns about the MAU defense. "She was always in the right spot and never failed to produce," Boudreau said. "She never missed a beat."
Alice Hayden - Sr., Defense - Hoosick Falls
-- Named last season's All-Banner player of the year for her shut-down defense, Hayden blossomed into even more of an offensive threat this year with 11 goals and 14 assists. Her touch, skills and smarts made her the heart of a championship defense. "She's a natural athlete. Give her someone to shut down and she will," Husser said.
Kate Montague - Sr., Defense - BBA
-- A two-year starter at sweeper for the Bulldogs, Montague was an essential component of the backline, her speed and positioning building the confidence of the defensive corps. "We just don't take her out," DeForest said. "She allowed our fullbacks to be more aggressive ... do things they might not have been able to do without her."
Hannah Fricke - Jr., Goalkeeper - Hoosick Falls
-- Fricke, also last year's first-team goalkeeper, backstopped another Hoosick championship, yielding just 11 goals in 2012. The junior posted two more clean sheets in the Final Four and only allowed one goal in 7 playoff games as the Panthers outscored foes 34-1. "She's so quick and she makes good decisions," Husser said. "In Section II she's one of the top three goalkeepers in any class."
Molly Elwell - So., Forward - Arlington
-- The other half of Arlington's one-two attacking punch with Sherman, Elwell piled up 14 goals and a dozen assists this fall, using her soccer IQ and her foot skills to unravel opponents. "A lot of her assists were really beautiful assists, beating a defender, getting to the endline and crossing to Rayleen or whoever else was there," Wood said.
Jordan Harmon - So., Forward - BBA
-- Constantly improving throughout the season, Harmon (five goals) was one who "played into minutes," according to her coach. Versatile throughout the middle of the field with her size and athleticism, Harmon excelled as a forward, providing a dangerous aerial threat on crosses. "She's going to be a workhorse for us in the future," DeForest said.
Lily Snyder - Fr., Forward - Cambridge
-- Snyder led Cambridge with five goals on the season, including one in the Indians' playoff game against Lake George, that gives the Indians a glimpse of the future. Among her bag of tricks, she learned a cutback move from former Indians' standout Molly Lauver, a 2011 Banner XI selection. "She has a slew of good moves, she can finish with both feet and she's quick," said Sweeney. "There's a ton of potential."
Kate Goodell - Jr., Forward - Mount Anthony
-- Goodell stepped up her game as a junior to the tune of 10 goals and five assists. Her speed, athleticism and ability to use space helped forge a dynamic strikeforce with McLenithan. "[Kate is] as tough a kid as I've ever coached," Boudreau said.
Allie Martin - Sr., Midfield/Fwd. - Hoosick Falls
-- As a wide-midfielder, Martin (14 goals) remained the same scoring threat she was as a junior but also became an accomplished set-up teammate in her own right, jumping from one assist in 2011 to 11 helpers this season. "To improve like that, to go from one to 11 assists, that's impressive," Husser said.
Rebecca Romac - Sr., Midfield - Mount Anthony
-- One of MAU's most skilled players with the ball at her feet, Romac was a midfield presence who helped the Patriots thrive in a new system under Boudreau. "She has moves ... she took a lot of pride in the fact that she could juke you a bit," Boudreau said, calling the senior a "true midfielder" and "great set-up person."
Mackenzie Hinchliffe - Jr., Midfield - Hoosick Falls
-- Until Delurey's creative run in the playoffs, Hinchliffe was the Panthers' top provider in midfield, using tremendous vision and skill to thread balls through to forwards like Haynes and Delurey. The junior finished with three goals and an eye-popping 20 assists. "You give her time, she's good, she'll pick you apart," Husser said.
Mazie Holton - Sr., Defense - Arlington
-- Physical and skilled with both feet, Holton was the pillar of the Eagles' defense, tasked to the opposition's best player and never backing down, Wood said. "She give you everything she's got."
Jean Brownell - Sr., Defense - Cambridge
-- During a trying season for Cambridge, the senior captain was the "heart and soul" of the Indians, according to Sweeney. "She's a leader, intelligent, willing to go after any ball," he said. Testifying to her toughness, Sweeney described Brownell trying to score a goal late in a loss to Hoosic Valley. "She was still playing hard, down to the end. She did the best she could, [giving] 120 percent."
Jennah Lacoste - Sr., Defense - Arlington
-- Arlington's sweeper, Lacoste was relied upon as the last line of defense during a season that saw the Eagles play state finalists Proctor and Black River a combined six times. "Her anticipation was her biggest asset -- she was very quick to the ball," Wood said.
Anna Restino - Sr., Defense - Hoosick Falls
-- One of Hoosick Falls' many complete soccer players, Restino's toughness and intelligence -- using angles to cut out attacks and apply high pressure -- down the left flank made it a no-fly zone for opponents. "Teams wanted no part of her side," Husser said. "The bigger the game, the better she played."