BEST IN THEIR FIELD: Indians' Whisenhunt co-Player of the Year in NWOC
Scappoose High senior Lauren Whisenhunt has been voted co-Player of the Year for Northwest Oregon Conference girls soccer.
Whisenhunt, a center back, shares the honor with Lindsey Antonson, a freshman forward for league champion Wilsonville.
Whisenhunt tallied two goals and seven assists this season. Her teammates selected her as the team's MVP.
"She was on all our set pieces, which gave us a lot of success this year. She was a huge part of our team, both defensively and offensively," Scappoose coach Summer Jark says. "She always had the toughest assignment on the field and conquered it with ease and great composure."
Scappoose finished 9-5-1 overall and was 5-1-1 in NWOC games, tying La Salle Prep for second place and earning the league's No. 2 seed into the Class 5A playoffs.
Three of Whisenhunt's teammates join her on the 13-player all-NWOC first team. Sophomore forward Tessa Davidson, junior midfielder Emma Jones and junior goalkeeper Faith Woodall also made the top squad.
St. Helens junior defender Kelsey Elliott was named first-team all-NWOC as well.
Fourteen players from the eight NWOC schools were chosen for the all-conference second team. They included Scappoose senior Shayna Redpath and three players from St. Helens — junior forward Mackenzie Carlson, senior midfielder Kennady Brown and senior defender Amanda Nichols.
Also, honorable mention acclaim went to four Indians and one Lion.
Scappoose was represented on the honorable mention list by sophomore midfielder Anika Havlik, senior midfielder Sierra Stafford and sophomore defenders Rylee Cook and Autumn Terry.
Freshman defender Gwen Daoust was St. Helens' HM player.
Jark lauds the second-teamers and honorable mention players from her Indians squad.
She notes that Jones was a captain and central midfielder voted for "best work ethic" by her teammates.
"A true servant leader," Jark says of Jones. "Always the last one in practice picking up cones and balls. Always the hardest-working player at practice and games. She leads by example."
Jones had four goals and four assists.
"She won every 50/50 ball in the middle and is an amazing defensive player, controlling the middle of the field," Jark says. "She also was consistently setting her teammates up offensively."
Davidson was tabbed by her Scappoose teammates as the team's top offensive player. She scored five goals and assisted on two others.
"She stepped up to the challenge of playing multiple positions this year," Jark says. "Great technical skills and soccer IQ. She created so much offensively with her great runs and ability to hold and keep the ball in our offensive third. She is great at taking people on and is very scrappy defensively."
This was Woodall's first year as a full-time keeper. She had played forward the previous two years. Teammates voted her Most Improved.
"Faith really stepped up to the plate this year, playing goalkeeper," Jark says. "She had very little experience and had really big shoes to fill and did a great job. She worked hard, and that showed as she turned into a good goalkeeper. I think she surprised everyone in a good way."
Woodall totaled 103 saves and posted six shutouts.
"She was great at coming off of her line when needed," Jark says.
Redpath, a center back, was voted Best Defensive Player by the Tribe. She was a co-captain and the "voice and organizer of our back line. The heart of our team," Jark says. "Shayna always is caring about everyone and the team morale. Her younger teammates look up to her due to her warm and welcoming personality. She has been such a strong force and has been a huge part of our success."
Havlik is "another extremely technical player with a brilliant first touch," Jark says. "Anika was a huge offensive threat and force, taking lots of shots from outside of the box and distributing extremely well from midfield."
Havlik led Scappoose in goals with six.
"She's a very hard worker and was constantly encouraging and pushing her teammates to do better," Jark says.
Co-captain Stafford "helped lead our team with kindness and positivity," Jark says. "She has been a big threat as a right midfielder the past two years. She was constantly sending in beautiful diagonal balls and finding ways to try to set up her teammates. Her 0-10 speed allowed her to get behind the defense."
Defender Cook was "an extremely solid left back," Jark says. "She's a very hard worker and very good at denying her opponent the ball. It was very hard to get by her. She played to feet well, building the attack from the left side. She also had good composure when pressure was on. Rylie has a fun loving personality allowing everyone to get along with her.
Terry served as "a great right back. She blew me away this season," Jark says. "She is an aggressive and very fun player to watch. Her speed and athleticism helped her shut down top players. She also was really good about staying on her feet and getting her body in front of the ball. She often flew up the right side of the field, joining the attack."
Making Lions roar
St. Helens coach Simon Date also had plenty of reasons to be proud of his players' contributions to the program this season.
First-teamer Elliott was "the best defender in the league," he says.
Elliott scored some crucial goals for the Lions, with three on set pieces.
"She has improved immensely of the past few years and for her to stand out as a junior the she did is nothing short of incredible," Date says. "Based on our sit-and-strike mentality as a team, we have to be able to absorb a lot of pressure. Having her as a rock back there, along with Amanda, was absolutely key to the success that we had. Teams had to consistently find other ways to score, where traditionally they would find gaps in the middle to exploit."
Date describes Elliott as "strong, aggressive and fearless — she is the perfect 'old-fashioned workhorse' you don't often see in the women's game."
Elliott has aspirations to play competitive soccer for many more years.
"She's got her heart set on playing in college at the highest level, and I think that any college team would be enhanced by having her in it," Date says.
Date says second-team selection Nichols was "the quintessential composed center back" this season for the Lions.
"Calm under extreme pressure, she is the ying to Kelsey's yang," Date says. "Always in the right place at the right time, Amanda reads the game better than almost anyone I've seen. Her partnership with Kelsey in the back was the key to the success we had.
"I think she started to believe it toward the end of the season. When I called her with the news that she had made second team, she was flabbergasted that she was being recognized for any contribution. Humble to a fault, she is well deserving of this honor."
St. Helens' Brown has been the team engine for three years.
"Finally, she was recognized at the league level," Date says of her second-team honor. "Her fitness is staggering, and to have a player like that buzzing around at full speed for the entire game in the middle of midfield is a coach's dream.
"Over her time here, and at the club level, she has developed into a confident midfielder, and put it all together this year to have a fantastic season."
Carlson, the other second-team Lion, took on a different role this year, at the coaching staff's request. Yet she still was able to produce 16 goals and be one of the premier strikers in Oregon prep soccer.
"In prior seasons, she had to burden a lot of the weight of the team on offense singularly, and this year we got her some help," Date says. "Her hold-up play was fantastic. She utilized her strength and power to involve her teammates, and created time and space in other ways.
"Every team we played against focused on her (as they should), and the way she was able to adapt added another dimension to her game."
Date says having Daoust on the NWOC honorable mention list rates as "probably my favorite recognition story."
At the start of the season, the coaches gave Daoust a choice: "She could play on varsity and not expect much more than the experience of it, or play on JV and probably be a leader and play every minute," Date recalls. "She choose varsity and clearly had different plans than the coaches did. After an injury in the second game to Lyla Beaudry forced us to throw Gwen into the fray, she never looked back.
"She locked down the position, and grew into it in terms of making some mistakes and having to battle a serious learning curve against some of the league's best players out on the wing."