The Hart girls soccer team clinched a sixth consecutive Foothill League title this year, going 10-0 in league for the first time since 1997.
While Hart head coach Guilherme Mitrovitch will be the first to tell you that the Indians’ success this season came down to a total team effort, he’ll also be the first one to gush about Alyssa Irwin’s individual accomplishments.
“I think we have to give credit to the team as a whole. All the girls who were feeding her with really good balls, really good deliveries. Credit to everyone, it’s about teamwork,” he said. “But I’m excited for Alyssa. There’s a lot of girls on our team who are also deserving, other girls in league, but I think at the end of the day Alyssa was clearly the best choice. She earned it and deserves to be the Player of the Year.”
Finishing with a league-high 22 goals, 12 of which came in Foothill League games, Irwin earned the 2019 All-SCV girls soccer Player of the Year award, marking the sixth consecutive year a Hart player has taken home the honor.
In addition to topping the scoring ranks, Irwin had six assists on the season and had a handful of multiple-goal games and several game-winning goals.
The junior forward consistently burned the opposition with her speed by streaking down the wings, receiving through balls from teammates and finishing with booming strikes.
Her quickness definitely serves as a key component of her offensive game, but she’s far more than a one-trick pony, she’s a multidimensional player. As good as she is with her footwork, she also did a lot of her damage in the air.
“I’ve always loved heading the ball, I’ve always been pretty good at it,” she said. “Reading the ball, knowing where to go especially since we have a team who is really good at set pieces.”
“She didn’t just impact the game with goals, she dominates in the air. She’s a big part of our set pieces offensively and defensively, she really dominates the game in that area too,” Mitrovitch said. “She’s always working hard, she doesn’t hesitate to put her body on the line, she’s very aggressive. I’m really happy to see how things played out for her because she had an established season.”
While finding the back of the net is a crucial part of the game, it’s not the end-all-be-all, with the work leading up to a goal being just as important.
Learning from her teammates, especially the experienced midfielders, Irwin became better at controlling the ball, using her touch to ward off would-be ball-stealers and finding her teammates in the right spots.
“Since the team is so good at possessing the ball, I’ve learned to possess the ball really well and keep the ball. It’s important to me, not just the big plays,” she said. “Making sure I play good overall and make good passes.”
The next season will be her last in an Indians uniform, and the soon-to-be senior is looking to close out her varsity career with another league title.
Hart graduates several key players from this year’s squad, but with Irwin coming back, a seventh straight Foothill League championship, and a fourth consecutive for her, is certainly in the cards.
“I think next year we have so many good players, we have 11 really good juniors who have been varsity since sophomore year, so a lot of experience,” Irwin said. “I think we’re going to be a really strong team. It’s hard to lose the seniors that we have, but we have a lot of good young players coming in.”
As for her post-high school goals, she’s still weighing her options, but does have one school in mind.
“I always wanted to go to Duke because it’s a really good school and they are really good at soccer. But we’ll see what happens.”
Shaina Berdin, Saugus, Junior
Along with teammate Aubrey Finicle, Berdin led Saugus in goals with 12 in 23 games and also recorded four assists. She earned a spot on the All-SCA (Southern California Soccer Coaches Association) Second Team and was third on Saugus in minutes played with 1,583. She fired a team-high 75 shots, 44 of which were on goal, also a team-high.
Alana Berens, Saugus, Senior
Berens was an integral part of Saugus’ midfield, falling back on defense whenever necessary, but also capable of pushing the offense and controlling the tempo. She scored one goal and had three assists in 23 games, firing 16 shots on goal, fifth most on the team. She was also one of two players awarded the 2019 SCA Senior Scholarship Award.
Aubrey Finicle, Saugus, Senior
Saugus’ main offensive weapon, Finicle recorded 12 goals and nine assists, tops in both categories, and had 33 total points. The senior had 35 shots on goal and five game-winning goals, helping lead Saugus to its best record in six years and a playoff berth. Finicle was also honored on the All-SCA Second Team.
Isabelle Goralsky, Valencia, Junior
The mainstay in the midfield for Valencia, Goralsky was a key component to a Vikings team that reached the playoffs. Whether she was delivering a free kick, corner kick or at the end of a goal-scoring opportunity, Goralsky was a force to be reckoned with.
Lizeth Gutierrez, West Ranch, Sophomore
Only a sophomore, Gutierrez has a rare combination of strength and speed, using her muscle to power through defenses, or her quickness and touch to outmaneuver defenders. She finished the season with 12 goals and two assists.
Leanna Kane, West Ranch, Junior
Arguably one of the best set piece takers in the Foothill League, Kane was deadly from distance on free kick opportunities or whenever she had a chance at goal. She excelled at winning the ball in the air and finding her teammates with precise long balls. She finished the season with four goals and two assists.
Sierra McCormick, Canyon, Sophomore
McCormick served as the engine of Canyon’s offense and was a catalyst in the midfield. She had the innate ability to find her teammates up top with accurate through balls and helped control the tempo for the Cowboys. A sophomore, she was also one of the youngest captains in the Foothill League.
Kaylani Miranda, West Ranch, Senior
Miranda served as the senior leader of a defense that featured several underclassmen. One of the strongest center backs in the Foothill League, she protected West Ranch’s goal efficiently, helping lead the team to nine shutouts. She also got in the mix offensively with free kicks and scored two goals on the year, including the Wildcats’ lone goal in their first-round playoff matchup with a header off a corner kick.
Kaycie Priske, Hart, Senior
Priske served as the last line of defense for a stellar Hart team that allowed only five total goals in 10 league matches, five of which were shutouts. She logged 12 clean sheets in 23 total games, including Hart’s first-round playoff win over El Dorado.
Jensen Shrout, Hart, Sophomore
Shrout was an essential member of Hart’s back four, using her size, strength and skill to halt opposing offensive attacks. Whenever an opposing forward seemed to gain momentum, Shrout was there to stop her and regain possession for her team. She was also utilized on offense in set pieces, finding the back of the net with headers on corner kicks or delivering booming free kicks into the box.
Stefani Woll, Hart, Junior
The main cog in Hart’s midfield, Woll was adept at controlling the game with her advanced footwork and passing ability. She consistently ignited the offense by finding a streaking teammate with a through ball or delivering reliable corner kicks that gave her teammates great goal-scoring opportunities.
Amanda Baumgartner, West Ranch, Junior
Baumgartner excelled at controlling possession and maintaining the pace of the game, using her touch to juke defenders and her accurate passing to find open teammates. Similarly to her teammate Kane, she also has the ability to fire from distance.
Brooke Chambers, Saugus, Senior
An All-SCA Second Teamer, Chambers was third on Saugus in goals (8) and assists (6). She used her strength and balance to power through defenses while also displaying deceptive speed that she utilized to get past defenders.
Shelby Cooper, Canyon, Senior
One of the captains and leaders of the Cowboys’ defense, Cooper made it difficult on opposing offenses by being a consistent stopper. She was also a threat offensively with the ability to push forward and find opportunities at goal.
Jessica Deegan, Hart, Junior
Hart’s starting left back, Deegan was an integral part of the team’s success. She was able to put a stop to opposing offensive attacks and could also push the ball down the sideline to ignite Hart’s offense.
Mariah Garcia, Golden Valley, Sophomore
A do-it-all player, Garcia was a crucial member of the defense, midfield and offense for Golden Valley. She led the Grizzlies with five goals and three assists in 18 games played and also led the team in minutes with 1,120.
Elizabeth MacArthur, Hart, Senior
MacArthur, along with her fellow Hart midfielders, dominated the ball for the Indians all season long. She was quick to get back on defense and capable of initiating offensive attacks with her exceptional passing ability.
Aubrey McKessy, Canyon, Junior
A lengthy and high-IQ goalkeeper, McKessy made several heart-stopping saves this season for the Cowboys and kept them in games.
Kella Okereke, Golden Valley, Sophomore
An up-and-coming keeper in the Foothill League, Okereke did her best to keep Golden Valley in games. Adept at coming out of the goal at the right times, Okereke will be a force for years to come.
Caitlin Pieper, Hart, Senior
Part of a Hart midfield that dominated all year, Pieper had the ideal blend of pushing forward on offense while also falling back to help on defense. Her impeccable touch allowed Hart to maintain possession and control the tempo in most matches.
Ashley Rens, SCCS, Senior
The ultimate utility player, Rens did a little bit of everything for the Cardinals. Coming into the season as a forward, SCCS head coach Casey Phillips asked her to anchor the defense, and she transitioned to the position effortlessly. Even as a defender, she was second on the team in goals (11) and assists (8). Rens took most of the set pieces for SCCS, using her booming strike to sail balls across the field and even saw time at keeper.
Quinnlan Reynolds, Valencia, Sophomore
A defensive stalwart for Valencia, Reynolds maintained the Vikings back line, but also pushed forward on offense whenever possible. She scored the Vikings’ only goal in their first-round playoff matchup.
Canyon — Jacqueline Morrison, junior
Golden Valley — Emily Perez, senior
Hart — Julia Melchiorre, junior
Saugus — Nicole Frazier, senior
SCCS — Sydney Boswell, sophomore
Trinity — Nandi Rogers, junior
Valencia — Jessica Raffi, senior
West Ranch — Tatum Summerfield, senior