BENNINGTON >> Our annual Banner XI returns from a year's hiatus to recognize the best girls soccer players in the area.
We have surveyed the area, studied the game from the sideline and quizzed local coaches on the top 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.
While important, statistics and league honors were only partial factors in our lineup, which attempts to recognize players from all positions. It was a tough task, so a couple of players may be in a different spot then they played on the field.
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 Banner XI All-Star squad.
— Jordyn Haynes, Sr., Hoosick Falls
In her sixth and final year of varsity competition, Haynes ended her career in a major way, leading the Panthers with 20 goals and racking up a school-record 130 overall. She was also chosen as the Wasaren League's player of the year.
She scored in 13 of her team's 18 games, despite being man-marked and double teamed by defenses across the Wasaren League.
"Other teams marked her knowing what she brings to the table and she still was able to make things happen," said coach Brittany Pine. "She's been around so long, she had to play different roles, like center mid and defense this year. She played where we needed her, and she shined."
Pine said her ability to move around helped them beat Cambridge. Haynes went to the center midfield and pulled the Indians' defense up, allowing other players to find success.
"Putting her in different spots really opened up the field," Pine said.
— Georgia Lord, Soph., Burr and Burton Academy
The sophomore was the leader on the front line for the Bulldogs and scored 10 goals as BBA went 17-1 and were Division I runner-up. "She is good enough technically to get around a man-mark — to coach talent like that is very rewarding," said Bulldogs coach Suzanne Mears. "She's a playmaker, sees the field really well and when to carry the ball and when to distribute. She gives us everything in training and games, she has a terrific work ethic."
— Hannah Pinkus, Soph., BBA
As a midfielder, Pinkus was a versatile player, leading BBA in goals with 12. But she was also good enough to play end to end and to gobble up defenders to open lanes for her teammates.
"She's strong, physical and a savvy athlete," said BBA coach Suzanne Mears. "She's so strong with her feet and in the air, with purpose — no one [else] could do that. She sees the pass and lanes and she executes from five to 40 yards, between two or three defenders into the net. It's just who she is as a player, competitive and skilled."
— Suzie Frisch, Jr., Cambridge
Frisch was the catalyst for Cambridge in the Indians' best year in the standings since 2010. Frisch led Cambridge with 19 goals and always seemed to be on the scoresheet when they needed her the most. She also had a handful of assists, making her one of the most dangerous players in the area.
— Kelly Pine, Jr., Hoosick Falls
The youngest of the Pine clan, Kelly's best sport is basketball, but her sister, coach Brittany, said she is refocusing a bit more on the pitch. Pine was a stud defender, but also moved up to the midfield and even the front on set pieces.
"This was her best season of soccer. We tried to get into a system on defense and that really helped us," said Hoosick Falls coach Brittany Pine. "She played end line to end line at points in the game, she was really able to be effective and a weapon up top and in the back. Also as part of the corner kicks, she was a target for set pieces, so she stepped into that role as well.
— Erika McCarthy, Sr., MAU
McCarthy planned to go into the season splitting time, but after the team's opening day loss to Essex, she became the full time netminder for the Patriots. She was a force in net, racking up six shutouts.
"She played every minute of every game after [the Essex] game," said MAU coach Mark Boudreau.
McCarthy had back-to-back shutouts twice during the season as well.
— Tess Belnap, 8th, Arlington
This eighth grader has the pedigree and she showed it immediately in Game 1, when she scored four times in a 7-2 rout over the Whitchester combo team. She led the team in scoring with 14 goals.
"We knew she was going to be good from the first day of practice," said Arlington coach Dan Wood. "As skilled as anyone we saw, she was smart on the field and worked hard."
She scored the winning PK in the Werner tournament as well.
"She got better as the season went, worked on her passing, which made her a more complete player," Wood said.
— Taylor Mann, Soph., Hoosick Falls
Not many could replace Jordyn Haynes, but it looks like Coach Brittany Pine will take a pretty good shot with Mann, who scored 17 goals (second only to Haynes). Mann, who's in her second year on the varsity for the Panthers, is small in stature, extremely fast and has a knack for putting the ball into the back of the net — sound familiar?
In the team's opening playoff game against Chatham, Mann's penalty kick sent them to the next round.
"I think Taylor, this year was the best I've seen her play, she stepped up and made a name for herself. Teams will know who Taylor Mann is," Pine said. "I utilized her at the wing more at the end of the year, [because] she's so fast, she can get by people on the sidelines and that really made a difference. She played 100 percent all out, she's fearless, she'll get the ball no matter how she has to do it. I enjoyed working with her this year."
— Emily Altland, Sr., Mount Anthony
Altland led the Patriots with 14 goals and tallied at least once in 11 of the team's 15 contests this season. Teams tried to keep a spy on Altland at all times, but that tactic didn't work all the time either.
"Emily is composed, plays the center really well," said MAU coach Mark Boudreau. "She can shoot form anywhere and she's not afraid to take a shot. We had some variations on set pieces, she scored on at least three anywhere from 25 yards and in."
BBA coach Suzanne Mears: "She gave us a run for our money, she's a fighter with heart and determination
— Allie Boudreau, Sr., MAU
Boudreau was put in an unenviable task of playing in the center defense, but she made the best of it. Watching her this season against some of the best teams in the state — BBA, Rutland, for example — Boudreau seemed to be playing at a different speed then her teammates or opponents. She is a wizard with the ball at her feet, turning defenders into pretzels if they played her close one-on-one.
"Her quality is versatility," said coach Mark Boudreau, also Allie's father. "She was a midfielder as a freshman, then a defense center mid and this year, we were four flat and she was one of the two center defenders. She impacts the game more than anyone on the field."
— Tess Pollard, Sr., BBA
Pollard led a senior-laden Bulldog back line that only allowed 14 goals in 18 games and never more than two in any single contest.
"She filled Hayley Sabol's role and she was our rock," said Suzanne Mears, BBA's coach. "She's calm and composed with the ball at her feet, always making the smart move. She's a four-year starter and she completely nailed it this year."
— Meg Flynn, Sr., Hoosick Falls
— Angela Gonzalez, Soph., HF
— Miranda Seacord, Jr., Cambridge
— Grace Snyder, Jr., Cambridge
— Grace Smith, Soph., Arlington
— Aimee Frank, Soph., Arlington
— Bella Dworkin, Soph., BBA
— Maggie Sullivan, fresh, BBA
— Kaidin Gauthier, Soph, MAU
— Bridget Ahearn, Sr., MAU
— Helen Mooney, Soph., Cambridge
— Jayde Tutunjian, Sr., Hoosick