PREBLE COUNTY — Preble County saw three teams competing for the right to be considered the best girls’ soccer team in the county, with Preble Shawnee, Twin Valley and Tri-County North all finishing with more than ten wins on the season.
The debate for The Register-Herald Player of the Year pitted the high-scoring sophomore Hailey Thies from Tri-County North against the possession-based, holding midfielder Riane Woodard of Preble Shawnee — who has once again received all-state recognition.
With 26 goals and seven assists, Thies was ultimately selected the player of the year in Preble County, after leading Tri-County North to a 10-6-1 record on the season. She was also elected player of the year in the Cross County Conference and received all-district recognition.
Woodard was described by head coach Kevin Schaeffer as, “What Preble Shawnee soccer tries to be. Aggressive controlled possession. She makes our team what it is.”
Woodard does not possess a tremendous stat line, but her impact on the field is immeasurable as she is challenged with controlling the game for the Arrows.
The Arrows, who established themselves as the best team finishing 12-5-1, fell in the sectional final to state power Hamilton-Badin, and sent four members, including Woodard, on the all-county team.
Joining Woodard is senior Megan Lindon, who finished the season with 10 goals and led the team with 11 assists. Schaeffer said she is the “most well-rounded” player on the team, describing her as a “workhorse” coming out of the midfield. Lindon and Woodard were both selected as first-team members of the All-SWBL Buckeye team.
Junior Hope Ballinger is also a first-team selection for the Arrows. She helped lead nine shutouts for the Shawnee defense as the teams’ centerback. Ballinger also received first-team all-district honors and was described as “one of the two best defensive players” Schaeffer has coached in his 17 years at the school.
Sophomore Saylor Jewell is the fourth and final Arrow to be recognized with first-team honors. Jewell led the Arrows with 19 goals and was second in assists with eight.
Both Jewell and Ballinger were members of the All-SWBL Buckeye second team.
Twin Valley South finished the season with the second-best record in the county, finishing with a record of 11-4-3.
The Panthers have three players receiving first-team honors, as seniors Morgan Newhart and Victoria Denlinger are joined by junior Abby Creech. All three players were also selected to the Cross County Conference firs- team.
Newhart scored two goals and had three assists on the season, but more importantly was the Panther’s center back. She helped reduce shots on goal by 75 percent compared to last season as the Panthers gave up three goals in conference games for the season. The Panthers defense posted seven shutouts including one against Tri-County North.
Denlinger graduates the program after a record-breaking career for the Panthers. This season she scored 18 goals and recorded 10 assists. She leaves as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 70 goals for her career.
Creech finished the season with 17 assists and 10 goals and was a front-to-back type of player for the Panthers who head coach Chad Newport says plays with a “non-stop” motor.
Joining Thies from Tri-County North is fellow sophomore Megan Hemp, who was also the team’s captain as voted on by her teammates. Hemp finished the season second on the team with 18 goals and tied for second with seven assists. Hemp also received first-team all CCC honors.
Eaton is represented by junior Mariyah McKelvin, who finished the season with three goals and an assist for the 3-14 Eagles. McKelvin was selected as a member of the All-SWBL Southwestern first team.
McKelvin is joined by sophomore Kate Bulach, who finished the season with three goals and three assists. Bulach was a second team All-SWBL Southwestern player for the Eagles.
National Trail is represented by Ruth Wellman, a sophomore, who was selected as first team All-Cross County Conference despite National Trail not winning a game. Wellman was credited with 28 defensive stop as she plays as the team’s stopper.
Honorable mentions go the following:
From Eaton, junior Jessica Spitler and senior goalie Madison Bowman.
From National Trail, junior Kate Otherson, sophomore goalie Sophie McCloskey, junior Bri Dillow and sophomore Rachel Ray.
From Preble Shawnee, sophomore Ashton Collins, senior Allison Began, sophomore Olivia Rader and senior Carlee Jones.
From Tri-County North, sophomore goalie Morgan Helman, sophomore Liv Baldasare, junior Chelsea Strawser, freshman Preston Lipinski, freshman Taylor Green, senior Jessica Koker.
From Twin Valley South, senior Sophie Cottingim, senior Kenzi Futrell and junior goalie Lacy Emrick
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062.