Pell City leads All-Area soccer team
by Erich Hilkert
The 2013 Daily Home All-Area girls’ soccer team is led by the playoff-qualifying Pell City squad with six overall selections. Pell City qualified for the 6A playoffs in a difficult area, finishing runner-up to Gadsden City. Pell City’s three senior class member selections will play soccer at the college level next year.

Senior goalkeeper Cate Eden has signed a soccer scholarship to play at Jacksonville State. She earned 14 wins this season, nine of which were shutouts.

Senior defender Taylor Hughes has signed a soccer scholarship to play at the University of South Alabama.

“As a central defender she doesn’t have too many stats,” Pell City head coach Jeff Samoranski said. “The big one that stands out is she was voted the defensive player of the year three years in a row. That’s never happened before, so that’s a good thing. Both Cate and Taylor were captains this year.”

The remaining senior selection is forward Aliyah Bentley.

“She was the leading scorer for the team this year with 15 goals and 10 assists,” Samoranski said. “She is going to Troy University, and she’s playing soccer at Troy, not on a scholarship as far as I know.”

Other Pell City selections include: junior midfielder Kodi Cooper, who was selected to play on the AHSAA North-South girls soccer squad on July 16; sophomore midfielder Laney Eden; and freshman defender Sarah Whitten.

Samoranski said both Eden and Whitten were important components to the team despite their youth and will take on bigger roles next season.

Laney Eden is Cate Eden’s younger sister.

“There are really no stats for her because she plays midfield, but I can tell you next year she will be a captain,” Samoranski said. “She’s just a phenomenal player. I can’t have the team without her, and she was only a sophomore this year, so I have a couple more years with her.”

Samoranski is confident Whitten has a bright future.

“She is a standout freshman defender,” he said. “She’s actually going to be taking Taylor Hughes’ spot on the team. As a freshman, I would put her up against any defender in the state. She’s awesome and again, only a freshman.”

The Daily Home Player of the Year is one of the top players in the state of Alabama, Childersburg forward Mac Kelley.

According to the soccer recruiting service Top Drawer Soccer, Kelley is the third-ranked female soccer player in the state. She received a four-star rating and was given a ranking of no. 11 among all female soccer players in the South region.

The former Birmingham club team member will play on scholarship at Samford next year. The 5-10 athletic forward led a young Childersburg squad to a playoff berth in the program’s first-ever season. Cory Ausderau, Childersburg’s head coach this past season, said what is most impressive about Kelley isn’t her stats, which are indeed impressive, but her team-first attitude.

“Mac Kelley had 40+ goals this season and 10 assists,” Ausderau said. “She could have easily had double that. With this being a first-year soccer program and her as a senior leader, she would take control of the game. We called it ‘The Mac Attack.’ She would dribble past the defenders, get the team ahead and score three or four goals. Once we got a comfortable lead, she would sit back on the defensive line, get a few steals and open some passing lanes for other players. She would teach them some moves. She was just the most unselfish player I’ve ever coached. She put so many balls in front of the goal for other girls to put into the net. She could have doubled her goals and probably had close to 30 or 40 assists if our girls were at that level, but we’re just not ready for that yet. She was by far our most valuable player. She is a special person.”

Other Childersburg selections include: Warnesha Kelley, Mac Kelley’s younger sister; defender Kristade Swain; and goalkeeper Jessica Garrett.

Despite being just an eighth grader, Kelley was the second-leading scorer for Childersburg.

“With her ball-handling skills, she has a bright future,” Ausderau said. “She’s great with the ball, and she would play anywhere I asked her to — left or right side, even if she wasn’t comfortable. She could definitely handle the ball, and she has some power behind her leg. She scored several goals for us in multiple games, and she’s only an eighth grader.”

Warnesha Kelley also plays club soccer with the Birmingham United Soccer Association.

Ausderau believes his goalkeeper might have earned a most improved award by becoming his top leader on defense by the end of the season.

“Our goalkeeper Jessica Garrett had a couple of shutouts,” Ausderau said. “She saved so many goals for us. She had no fear. She was the most determined girl. She was just focused. She knew what the goal was: she wanted to get a shutout. If she let one ball get by her, she was upset about it; it ate her up. She was just determined not to let another ball get by her. She was a stalwart on our defense.”

Ausderau believes if Swain is given enough confidence, she has the ability to affect the outcome of a game.

“Kristade Swain was on our back defensive line, and she is so fast,” Ausderau said. “She makes up for any mistakes that anybody has on the defensive line, or any midfielders for that matter, if the ball gets by anybody. You really feel good having her back there. She’s not going to let anybody past her.”

Sylacauga earned five selections to the All-Area team. The Lady Aggies missed the playoffs this season, with area foes Briarwood making it to the third round of the playoffs and Homewood making it to the second round of the playoffs. The team managed to defeat their rival, Talladega, twice this season. Their selections include: senior defender Kaycee Holmes, who has played club soccer in Briarwood; junior midfielder and team captain Shelby Sorensen, who has played club soccer in Briarwood; junior defender Chandler Thrash; sophomore midfielder Alondra Clarke; and freshman midfielder Sarah Donahoo, who has played club soccer in Vestavia Hills.

After a standout performance by Donahoo earlier this season, head coach Morgan Haney said, “Sarah’s always a hard worker. She’s one of the ones who, no matter what, is going to be working. She’s just an aggressive hard worker.”

Lincoln was another first-year program that qualified for the state playoffs. The team received three selections to the All-Area team: senior striker Leia Brown, who played club soccer in Vestavia Hills; freshman right wing Kaitlynn Taylor; and junior defender Cantasia Morris.

Talladega received three selections to the All-Area team including: senior striker Courtney Wesley; junior striker Kristen Sims; and sophomore left wing Erin Bailey. All three selections were team captains for Talladega. Talladega head coach Hillary Hathcox believes each played an integral role on the team this season.

“(Courtney) was our leading scorer for the season. She’s played soccer her entire life,” Hathcox said. “She was a big asset to our team, and we’ll definitely miss her next year. (Kristen) was voted most valuable player by the team. They felt she was really dependable. She was our second-leading scorer, and we’re looking forward to what she can do for us her senior year. Erin plays wing. She is very aggressive, despite her small stature. She’s probably the smallest player that we have, but she is also the fastest player we have. Like I said, she plays very aggressive.”

© 2013