2014 Elite Eleven AA Girls
Goalkeeper Maggie Smither ● Senior ● Sioux Falls Lincoln
In her second year as Elite Eleven goalkeeper, Smither continued her excellent performance between the pipes for the AA State Champs. Maggie is the entire package, combining courage, great shot-stopping abilities, super distribution and leadership. And she is off to SDSU next year to continue her career in-state at the Division I level.
Defender Kelsi Wipf ● Senior ● Sioux Falls Roosevelt
A strong, versatile back, Kelsi was a mature force who kept her defense organized and who was valuable at getting her team back on attack after she won balls that entered the Roosevelt defending third. She was often seen getting involved directly on attack after winning a ball from an opposing player.
Defender Molly Doetzel ● Junior ● Sioux Falls O’Gorman
Many considered Molly the top back in the state this year and that evaluation was well-founded. O’Gorman depended deeply on her running and tough-mindedness to allow them to go forward. When teams countered against the Lady Knights, she took care of business, covering the defending third from sideline to sideline.
Defender Gabbi DeMarce ● Sophomore ● Rapid City Stevens
It seems that Gabbi is designed to play center back. And even though she feels very comfortable there, opponents don’t get the same feeling. She has great size and plays a controlled sort of soccer, always looking to combine with team mates to play the ball out of the back. One of the youngest players to ever be named Elite Eleven, Gabbi had opposing coaches from all over the state talking about her.
Midfielder Allie Zueger ● Sophomore ● Aberdeen Central
We looked at several Golden Eagles for Elite Eleven spots this year and Allie continually stood out as one of those most responsible for the team’s success. And that is because of her incredible work rate. You would see Allie working from end line to end line and from sideline to sideline for her team, doing everything from winning balls to distributing on attack to shooting on the goal. Allie covered so much ground, some coaches even wondered if there were two players wearing the #17 shirt.
Midfielder Julie Teslow ● Junior ● Sioux Falls Lincoln
Sioux Falls Lincoln seems to come up with a great center midfielder almost every year. After losing a couple very good central players, they needed someone to step up and continue the standard. Julie was that player. She has enough strength to play a very competent defensive midfielder, has the skill to play holding mid and has a nose for the goal, too – evidenced by her two brilliant goals in the AA Girls championship game.
Midfielder Theresa Pujado ● Sophomore ● Sioux Falls O’Gorman
After being named to Elite Eleven as a freshman last year – the youngest to ever be named Elite Eleven – Theresa had some big shoes to fill. Her own. But this year Theresa’s role changed dramatically from that player who had freedom to roam and shoot to the player who had to be the Lady Knights’ engine room. While some might have scoffed at having to take that much responsibility, Theresa settled took it seriously. Even while being frequently double-teamed, Theresa was still somehow able to control the middle of the park – often without a lot of central support.
Midfielder Rose Miller ● Senior ● Rapid City Central
Several of the coaches on the Elite Eleven committee said that when they played Rapid City Central, Rose was the best player on the field. She was the player Central counted on to cover several jobs. Rose is not afraid to lay down a hard tackle on any player and was the person here team mates looked to when it was time to work the ball out of trouble.
Midfielder Caelie Williams ● Senior ● Pierre
A strong, versatile midfielder with that rare combination of size, skill, speed and the right kind of attitude, Caelie drew a lot of attention from every team the Lady Govs played. Her uncanny ability to get the ball out of trouble when being double or triple teamed and then have an accurate rip from twenty or thirty meters made her the most dangerous scoring midfielder in the state this year.
Forward Taylor Kelly ● Junior ● Harrisburg
A true double threat as a running forward and a player who is deadly at free kicks, Taylor ended the year in second position for points. Even though some scored more goals, she was also a provider, leading the top-tier players in assists. Possibly the most impressive fact to Taylor’s success this year, was that she played in a team with a lot of good supporting players who were sidelined by injuries and illnesses throughout the season.
Forward Brianna Benjamin ● Junior ● Yankton
Even though Brianna missed the early part of the season with an ankle injury that bothered her every day of the 2014 season, she still managed to finish in the top three for points. A relentless attacker, who has great speed and a quick shot, she ran past defenders on every team Yankton played. Nobody was surprised by Brianna’s speed – it was just something they couldn’t do much about.
Player ofthe Year Caelie Williams ● Pierre
There was one sentence shouted numerous times in every game where Caelie appeared this year. And that was, “Watch #17!” While that was great advice, it didn’t do much good, as Caelie was the top goal scorer in AA Girls in 2014. She is a true double-sided player, and although she is naturally right-sided she has an incredible gift in her left leg.
Deadly from twenty and even thirty meters, Caelie fired shot after shot into far corners that no keeper could reach. Her skill allowed her to get her head up and send dangerous balls to team mates. She is the entire package of speed, strength, skill and goal scoring ability.
And when you add her soccer brain, you have a truly special player, the likes of whom does not appear on the soccer scene very often.
Coach of the Year Steve Burkhalter ● Sioux Falls Lincoln
We put a lot of pressure on the Lady Patriots this year by picking them as our pre-season favorite to take it all. And the team started almost exactly as a team that was not going to hoist the cup at the end. Putting a high school team together is a lot harder than it looks. You have players from a lot of different age groups, from different teams – some of the players might not even like each other. Pulling all that dynamic together – and holding it together – for a soccer season and all its ups and downs takes a lot of skill.
There were plenty of factors that helped make this choice easy, but no other factor was more important than the week-to-week work Coach Burkhalter did. Every single week, he seemed to find the one weak spot in the team and worked to solve it. And the team responded.
Every week, the Lincoln Girls were better than the last. Ultimately, they achieved the level they needed to achieve, even though there were plenty of opportunities to settle for less. Obviously, much of that credit goes to the players. But in our opinion, the Lady Patriots would never have achieved their championship without the guidance of Coach Steve Burkhalter.