On goal -- Scappoose players claim all-league spots
As a team, the Scappoose Indians labored long and hard this season, reaching the state quarterfinals, earning a No. 5 ranking and posting an 11-4-1 record.
The individual fruits from those efforts have come in the form of the all-Northwest Oregon Conference voting by the league's coaches.
Four Indians have been picked for the first team, two players have been chosen for the second team and three have made honorable mention.
"Our goal was to do better and make it farther in the playoffs than the year before, and these girls did that," said Scappoose's Summer Jark, who was voted NWOC Coach of the Year after guiding the Indians to second place behind Wilsonville.
St. Helens had one player, junior Maria Reardon, make the all-league second team while four Lions earned honorable mention from a team that finished 2-10-2.
"I was disappointed at our results, but a lot of things happened that were unexpected," Lions coach Angie Nichols said. "That included injuries, and so while our defense was pretty strong this season, we scored only one goal in (an 0-6-1) league."
Scappoose's first-team selections reprsented the back line, the midfield and the striking area of the attack -- with senior defender Emma Jones, junior midfielders Anika Havlik and Grace Negelspach and junior forward Tessa Davidson recognized by the other NWOC coaches.
All four Indians played a key role as the team went 6-1-0 in league and defeated Springfield 2-0 in the state playoffs.
Jones took on more of a defensive role this season after being asked to help stabilize the team in that half of the field.
"She doesn't care where she plays, and her athleticism makes her such a standout," Jark said. "She's so good … the whole package, which includes her leadership, her drive, her kindness and compassion. She's the last one putting the balls away in the shed, so gracious. An amazing kid."
Jones is headed to Portland State to play college soccer.
"She is the most deserving of all the credit in the world but so humble," Jark said. "I could literally go on and on talking about her. She's one of the best athletes in the state. Someone like that is irreplaceable."
Havlik and Negelspach were double trouble for opponents going this way or that way on the field.
"Ani was a huge offensive threat, with so many assists, handling all our set pieces and a bunch of goals, too," Jark said. "When we moved her to center midfield, she was so strong defensively, too. She's a strong winner of the ball. And I don't think she ever kicked the ball out of bounds on a corner kick — she was on point all the time. She's so consistent, has a great touch on the ball and is a very explosive player.
"Grace had a huge year, too, and scored a lot of big goals when we needed them. She was always up in the box and able to redirect balls out of the air. She takes people on, and is really good about opening up the field and switching play from the middle. Her composure on the ball is something special. If she continues to improve the way she did this year, it's going to be scary."
Davidson also gave opposing defenses fits.
"Such a technical player, and someone who takes players on 1v1," Jark said. "She's really good at holding the ball and waiting for teammates to come up the field so she can distribute. She can play amazing through-balls in tight spaces or send in beautiful crosses from the outside when there's very little space. Offensively, she's just very, very skilled and talented. You can tell she's been playing club soccer since 5 years old and has had a lot of touches and work with the ball."
Scappoose junior defender Rylee Cook and senior goalkeeper Faith Woodall made the all-conference second team.
"Rylee is a really smart defender, position-wise. Her soccer IQ is so strong," Jark said. "She loves the left-back spot, where she plays on club. She's so good at getting up in the attack, too. We needed her in the middle this year, so she was learning a new position, and she did great. Such a strong, solid defender who also has really good technical skills and can distribute. We were very comfortable putting her on the other team's most challenging players."
Woodall battled through some injuries for the second year in a row, again stepping up to complete the lineup.
"I'm so thankful she was willing to be the goalkeeper when it was totally foreign to her last year, after being a striker her freshman and sophomore years," Jark said. "She is a really good keeper, and I think she can still improve so much, with good coaching and more experience."
The Indians' honorable mention players were senior midfielder Taryn Verzino, sophomore midfielder Kiera Fagan and junior defender Autumn Terry.
"Taryn was at every off-season practice or kick-around we had, starting in the spring and going through the summer. And she was so solid for us this season," Jark said. "Kiera just kept getting better and had a tremendous work rate in winning the ball back for us; she was everywhere. And Autumn is so fun to watch, really good at anticipating and flying up the right wing and joining the attack; she is super fast.
"With Autumn, Rylee and (sophomore) Sydney Hanke, we'll have three solid defenders returning."
• At St. Helens, Reardon was a mainstay.
For her to make second team all-league "is really well-deserved," Nichols said, "because she really stepped it up this year. She has always been a midfielder, but we ended up using her as our main center back due to her speed and intensity. There was a huge hole, not having (senior) Kelsey Elliott in that position as she was recovering from ACL surgery. Maria filled the role nicely."
The Lions' honorable mention list consisted of Elliott, senior forward Mackenzie Carlson, senior midfielder Anessa Mandella and sophomore goalie Gabrielle Alexander.
"Kelsey is an inspiration to us all," Nichols said. After her knee injury in February, she had reconstructive surgery in April, returned to the field in June and played against Seaside in September.
"Although her speed isn't back yet, she is a smart and talented player who took most of our free kicks and corner kicks and even some goal kicks," Nichols said. "She was our head captain and was at every practice and game. She's one of the most dedicated players I have ever coached."
Carlson gave the Lions a talented club soccer player who led the team in shots on goal and "who is always fun to watch," Nichols said. "She's a super-strong striker with the ability to move the ball around multiple defenders."
Mandella is "quick, scrappy and one of our hardest workers," Nichols said. "She was huge in controlling the center of the field. She has natural athletic ability. Because of her smaller size, and her speed, she got knocked around a lot, but she is tough as nails, and never quit."
Alexander became one of the team MVPs, Nichols said, as she went from splitting time in goal to serving as the full-time keeper.
"We played against some really good teams, both in preseason and during league, so she got a bit of a workout," Nichols said. "She had some phenomenal saves. People on the bench, including me, were constantly saying things like, 'Thank God for Gabbie,' or "I just love Gabbie,' every time she would make a save or control the defense."
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