Hart’s Irwin doubles down on league’s highest honor

Senior forward Alyssa Irwin stretches out to extend a play in the Hart Varsity Showcase. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Shrout

Hart girls soccer’s Alyssa Irwin was named the All-Foothill League Player of the Year for the second consecutive time when the league announced its top players on Feb. 24.

“It really showed me that it wasn’t just a fluke season,” Irwin said of her junior year. “I didn’t think I’d get it once let alone twice. It gives me a lot of hope for the future. Getting it two years in a row shows me that I can do anything.”

It truly seems like Irwin can do anything. She was a force to be reckoned with on the pitch, scoring a whopping 32 goals and tacking on an additional 10 assists. Her senior season outshined her junior year in which she scored 27 goals and only six assists. 

“She made a tremendous impact,” said Hart head coach Guilherme Mitrovitch. “This year, she dominated even more. I thought it was going to be very hard for her to have the numbers she did last year but she took it to another level. She’s pretty much a legend at Hart.”

More: Hart’s boys soccer’s Nicholas Woll earns All-Foothill League Player of the Year

Teams around the league had to game plan for her because Irwin in front of the goal with the ball was a dangerous sight to see.

“This year, I gained a lot of confidence in front of the goal,” she said. “It’s really exciting. Confidence is really important in how you play.”

Despite having all the confidence in the world right now, Irwin didn’t always feel as if she was going to have a great season. She admitted to thinking that her previous season might have been a fluke, especially after the way the 2019-20 campaign started.

“The first game I had a really rough game and I was thinking I might have not have a good season like I did last year,” she said. 

However, Irwin found a way to turn things around and secure her second straight Player of the Year honors.

“In the second game, I got a hat trick and it gave me the confidence to think, ‘I can do this, and I can do well,’” she said.

After that, ‘hat trick’ almost became synonymous with Irwin’s name. She scored in bunches throughout the year and even had a stretch where she scored a hat trick every time she stepped on the pitch with four in as many games.

“She’s a beast,” Mitrovitch said. “It’s so impressive how driven she is. She really has an ability to head the ball. She has good timing and good attitude. She impacts the game so much in so many ways.”

Of course, soccer is a team sport. It takes 11 people to win a game, not just one. Irwin recognizes that and gives a lot of credit to her teammates, especially Hart’s midfielders that put her in a position to score as much as she does.

“As a forward, you’re so dependent on the midfielders because if they aren’t good, then you can’t get the ball,” she said. “My team has been absolutely amazing. If I didn’t have such a strong team, I wouldn’t be able to play. I wouldn’t be able to have the goals or any of the stats if it weren’t for the players that they were.”

If it weren’t for her midfielders, she wouldn’t have had much to celebrate in her AP Government class either. It was there that she discovered she was named the Player of the Year from her friend, classmate and teammate Stefani Woll, who led the team in assists.

Alyssa Irwin (Hart, 16) fights for the ball with Shaden Moran (17) and Katlyn Herrera (Golden Valley 16) // Photo courtesy Stephanie Shrout

Although the glamour of being named the Foothill League Player of the Year may have worn off after her first go-around, getting to share that moment with a friend made it just as rewarding for Irwin.

“It was actually really nice because she got first team and I got Player of the Year,” she said. “It was a really exciting moment being able to share it with someone that played with me and contributed to my success.”

After an incredible senior year, Irwin has begun her transition to the next level. Club soccer has started up again and Irwin has begun practice with the LA Breakers ECNL. According to her, getting back on the pitch has been good for her, getting her back into soccer shape.

However, club soccer isn’t the end of the road for her. A UC Santa Barbara commit, Irwin will be playing soccer at the Division 1 level for the next four years, which is a level of athleticism that runs in her family. Her older brother, Trent, played Division 1 football at Stanford.

“I have plenty of confidence she’s going to do well there, as well,” Mitrovitch said. “I think she will show the coaching staff there and make an impact early on in her career. It’s a tough conference, but she will succeed, she has that mentality. It runs a little bit in the family too.”

First Team

Aubrey McKessy – Senior, Canyon

Sara Johnston – Senior, Canyon

Mariah Garcia – Junior, Golden Valley

Stefani Woll – Senior, Hart

Megan Shehee – Senior, Hart

Julia Mlechiore – Senior, Hart

Grace Seitz – Senior, Saugus

Shaina Berdin – Senior, Saugus

Isabelle Goralsky – Senior, Valencia

Cassidy Imperial-Pham – Sophomore, West Ranch

Yumary Rubio – Senior, West Ranch

Leanna Kane – Junior, West Ranch

Second Team

Emily Guluzza – Sophomore, Canyon

Analise Rappe – Senior, Canyon

Eziekella Okereke – Junior, Golden Valley

Kayla De La Merced – Junior, Golden Valley

Jessica Deegan – Senior, Hart

Jensen Shrout – Junior, Hart

Alyssa Edward – Sophomore, Saugus

Presley Williams – Junior, Saugus

Cory Greer – Senior, Valencia

Quinnlan Reynolds – Junior, Valencia

Summer Hahn – Sophomore, West Ranch

Natalie Link – Junior, West Ranch

Honorable Mentions

Jacqueline Morrison – Senior, Canyon

Natalia Zuluaga – Sophomore, Golden Valley

Sarah Melvin – Senior, Hart

Katie Russell – Senior, Saugus

Jessica Victorio – Senior, Valencia

Amanda Baumgartner – Senior, West Ranch

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