2014 Elite Eleven A Girls
Goalkeeper Hailee Fischer ● Freshman ● West Central
Only one goalkeeper in Girls A faced more shots this year than Hailee Fischer. West Central likes to get players forward and sometimes in a system like that, the goalkeeper is asked to do a little more. Hailee had that challenge over the course of the year and established herself as a very competent keeper who played with much more maturity than one would expect from a freshman. She is not only physically strong with great technique, her voice is already one of the best in the business. We’re looking for Hailee to achieve much in her career.
Defender Kennady Cahoy ● Senior ● Tea Area
The heart of the Tea Area defense, Kennady is a player who exhibits a lot of great traits – speed, skill, grittiness, and more. But her ability to read the game and anticipate opponents’ next moves are very special. She was often seen stopping attacks, getting her team countering and then joining in to support as a holding player.
Defender Mari Hubanks ● Senior ● Belle Fourche
As a player who goes about her work in the back without much fanfare or glossiness, Mari’s defending has literally been described as “heroic.” She is the type of player who is not intimidated by any opponent and who has the savvy to deal with any problem she sees. Mari has a nice combination of skill and soccer brain and she is possibly the most dependable player on this year’s Elite Eleven side.
Defender Darci Rogers ● Senior ● Hot Springs
As the only player on this year’s Elite Eleven who plays in a co-ed team, Darci Rogers deserves special recognition. In fact, Darci has spent her entire soccer career playing alongside boys and has not only survived in that capacity, but has developed a reputation as a savvy, tough defender.
Midfielder Autumn Barnett ● Junior ● Vermillion
Every once in a while you get to see a central player who has that uncanny ability to take a perfect first touch almost every time. Autumn perhaps has the highest level of that right first touch ability in South Dakota. Where many players are in a constant fight in the middle of the park, Autumn’s ability to feel players around her helps her get the ball where it can do the most good and when she gets her head up to distribute or shoot, she is on target.
Midfielder Bailee Ward ● Senior ● Belle Fourche
Goalkeepers and defenses across A Girls this year were in jeopardy whenever Bailee had the ball – no matter if she was forty out or not. She has a big leg and was dangerous as a shooter from almost any distance. But she also had that ability to find the hard-running Belle Fourche front runners and was able to connect pass after pass to contribute to the Lady Broncs’ best-ever season. Bailee also scored two big goals in the A Girls championship match and was named Player of the Match.
Midfielder KJ Medler ● Senior ● St. Thomas More
What can we say about KJ that we already haven’t said? This year, she continued to build on her Elite Eleven Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year recognition. It’s not easy playing in the middle of the park with a big target on your back, but KJ seemed unbothered by the attention and was STM’s biggest asset in finding the right pass to other attackers for a very dominant season.
Midfielder Ashley Peterson ● Senior ● St. Thomas More
A pure attacking player who has been on our radar for a while, Ashley was frequently the most dangerous in the state – in either division. She has wonderful skill and great vision. But her all-out determination is the trait that stands out most when she is going at the defense. Ashley is a tall, strong attacker with good speed who has great competence with the ball at her feet.
Forward Jessica Ryan ● Junior ● Belle Fourche
This is Jessica’s second time on the Elite Eleven team, having made it after an extremely impressive freshman year. She has always had an uncanny ability to finish chances and this year was no different. Her work yielded the Lady Broncs twenty-six goals (21 goals and 5 assists). Jessica has one more year to work her magic at Belle Fourche and is well on her way to setting scoring records that may never be broken.
Forward Natasha Samudzi ● Junior ● Vermillion
The perfect combination of speed and skill, Natasha ran by a lot of defenses this year and then used her finishing ability to score for her team. As a team leader, she led by example – she is a relentless runner and worker and her voice stays positive even during the most challenging of times.
Forward Ashley Eickman ● Junior ● West Central
West Central likes to get the ball forward and Ashley – as their high target – did an incredible amount of running this year. In fact, her work led to goal after goal, either on her own or to fellow attackers who were able to make the trip. Ashley is one of those rare players who has size, strength and speed – and who is able to use them all for all eighty minutes. Add that to her burning desire to contribute and win and you have a very special player indeed.
Photo Credit: Matt Gade Mitchell Daily Republic
Player of the Year ● Jessica Ryan
Jessica’s on-field and off-field personalities are quite different. Off the field, you would never guess that she is a relentless stone-cold finisher during a soccer game. And even though she was the state’s highest goal scorer that number will never reflect the fact that she is a humble person and incredibly gracious winner. In a team that prides itself on individual responsibility and team work, Jessica was the player who was at the top of the pyramid. She is the kind of player who leads by example and actually has achieved her many successes on and off the field by being nice – an increasingly rare commodity in high-achieving people.
Coach of the Year Mark Anderson ● Tea Area
In his first year at Tea Area – which was also the first year for a team there – Mark Anderson inspired his young team to improve and be relevant. And that’s exactly what they did.
This year – the Lady Titans’ second, Coach Anderson took a very young team and made them believe they could be contenders. In the cycle of building contenders, coaches have to bring along younger players and put them in positions where they can succeed – and also fail. Coach Anderson’s year had a lot more success than failure and he took his young team to the edge of their capabilities, finally losing out in the semifinal to eventual champion Belle Fourche.
As legendary coach Ronnie Theisz said, coaches should not be judged solely by the great players they get to coach, but by how much they helped the players who needed it. Coach Mark Anderson fits that description perfectly and we congratulate him on being the 2014 A Girls Coach of the Year.