The Chronicle’s 2018 All-Area Girls Soccer Team: Kicking Their Way to the Top
Neck and Neck: Tenino’s Dell and Adna’s Aselton Repeat as Co-MVPs of All-Area Girls Soccer Squad
By Jordan Nailon
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
Or, bosses, as it were.
That’s the tune we’ve been humming around The Chronicle sports department while we reviewed the various whats that were and figured out the who that would come to comprise the 2018 All-Area girls soccer team.
When the stats and stories all sunk in we were left in a familiar predicament. Tenino’s Brieanna Dell and Adna’s Payton Aselton once again separated themselves from the pack but were unable to outshine each other. As a result the respective soccer bosses have been tabbed as All-Area co-MVPs for the second straight season.
As is wont to happen, Dell and Aselton are joined on the All-Area by a host of their teammates who helped the Beavers and Pirates find success in the postseason. In addition to Dell the Tenino team landed Courtney Dodge, Lara Kershaw and Maria Collins on the All-Area squad while Adna is represented by Cierra Swenson, Jordyn Swenson, and Makaela Meister alongside Aselton.
The rest of this year’s All-Area girls soccer team includes a mishmash of kits. W.F. West was the only other team to land two players on the team with Courtney Bennett and Lauren Tornow earning All-Area honors. Alayna Miller of Centralia and Halee WIlliams both sport black and orange tiger stripes on the pitch, while Alexa Barragan of Winlock and Adalee Sabin of Onalaska round out the All-Area squad.
In her junior campaign this season Aselton assumed the role of team captain and made a concerted effort to work as facilitator for the rest of the Pirates crew. That left her with a balanced stat sheet of 22 goals on 87 shots and 16 assists from her midfield position. If time and place counts for anything, it’s worth noting that nine of those goals were game-winners during the Pirates’ run to a league title and third place finish at state. For all her efforts Aselton was tabbed as the offensive MVP of the Central 2B League in a vote by the coaches.
In the offseason Payton Aselton plays plenty of soccer and she seems to enjoy imparting her experience on her teammates when the situation calls for it.
“She’s got that good combination, as do some of the other girls on the team, the leaders, the captains, of helping the other girls to learn how they can improve without being bossy,” said Coach Aselton. “The team as a whole, the younger ones for sure, really appreciate the older ones giving them tips and knowing who to mark and where to pass the ball. She does enjoy doing that.”
For her part, Payton Aselton says she enjoys playing with her lifelong friends in Adna even more than high-caliber club soccer because of all the relationships and rivalries.
“I have more confidence playing in high school because I’ve played with everyone before and I know they trust me,” sayd Aselton. “Because I’ve grown up with them so long and we just want to win together. It’s big, definitely. It’s more important for me to win in high school.”
After coming together again for the All-Area photo shoot on Wednesday Aselton took stock of her teammates and spread the love like so many deftly placed passes.
“Everyone had such dedication to the game. We had us four who were here today and then we had the rest of our team that were backing us up. There were a lot of people who wanted it and who were pushing us to go far,” Aselton said. “There were so many girls that were great on our team. It’s nice to have so much spread out talent.”
Cierra Swenson was one of the Pirates who benefitted from those aforementioned well-placed passes from Aselton and the extra attention she garnered from defenses. This season she punched home an incredible 26 goals on just 66 shots, including three game winning goals. A team captain along with Aselton, Swenson also dished four assists and earned first team honors in the Central 2B League as a forward.
“Cierra brings a good spark. She’s the one that starts the team chants that we do before the game. She’s a great role model in that and the younger girls really look up to her,” said Coach Aselton. “She’s really focused when she’s on the field and she’s always trying to engage in team play.”
Cierra’s sister, Jordyn Swenson, landed on the All-Area team after earning second team honors for her defense in the Central 2B League. While her main responsibilities were on the retreating end she also found time to post six goals on 20 shots and dished five assists for good measure. Most importantly, she helped to anchor the Pirates’ defense that allowed only six goals all season.
Whereas Cierra Swenson is an unabashed spitfire on the field who never shies away from a sporting confrontation, Jordyn prefers to lay back in the cut ready to pounce on unsuspecting foes.
“She’s more quiet. She’s also very focused and she wants to do a good job,” noted Coach Aselton. “She’s done a really good job of listening this year and wanting to do what’s best for the team.”
However, Jordyn Swenson does have one attribute that dependably puts her on the radar of opposing coaches and spectators.
“She’s just got a wicked hard kick,” said Coach Aselton.
As Adna’s proverbial brick wall goalie Makaela Meister was the final Pirate to garner All-Area honors. This season she allowed only five goals and compiled a save percentage of over 90 percent. Those efforts included 16 shutouts and 18 wins as Adna lost only twice all year. Fortifying Meister’s case for All-Area honors is the fact that she helped account for as many Adna goals as she allowed with two goals and three assists to her name. A junior, Meister was named first team goalie in the Central 2B League.
“I thought she did great. It’s really hard when she doesn’t get a lot of balls back there because the defense is that good but just the way that she does stay on top of everything so that when she does get a shot on goal her instincts are still there,” said Coach Aselton. “It’s one of those things where we really count on her and we can bring her up because she’s a good field player, too.”
Way out Tenino way the Brieanna Dell show was back for another season of success as the Beavers played their way to a second place finish in the 1A Evergreen League before securing the program’s first appearance at the state tournament in the better part of a decade. Along the way Dell posted 25 goals, including six hat tricks, and five assists. Those stats accounted for half of the team’s total goals and she was awarded first team Evergreen League honors for her accomplishments.
“She’s a great player. She puts in a lot of work in the offseason and plays club soccer,” said Tenino coach Kevin Schultz. “The teams that know us definitely focus on her but she still scored more goals this year than last year. She’s the most pure goal scorer that we have in this area, which as only a sophomore, that’s pretty impressive”
While in the midst of her All-Area peers Dell was quick to point out her teammates for helping the Beavers get back to state.
“I feel like we work as a team and we work really hard as a team,’” Dell said. “I think it was just a lot of communication and encouraging each other. I think that encouraging was the biggest thing for our team and my three other teammates who were here today.”
Courtney Dodge, a senior, was another Beaver with a big hand (er, foot?) in Tenino’s success this season. As a forward Dodge notched six goals and 12 assists and earned All-League second team honors in the 1A Evergreen.
“She led us in assists and just played mostly on the wing as a wide forward. Her ability to get open and create opportunities for her teammates with her speed was huge,” said Schultz, who noted that Dodge even scored a game-winning goal against rival Rochester. “She really helped us play the way we wanted to play.”
Lara Keshaw was another player with a big boot for the Beavers this season. The senior midfielder scored eight goals and dished eight assists on her way to first team All-League status in the 1A Evergreen.
“She is probably our most technically skilled player,” said Schultz, who added that Kershaw has a knack for “hockey-style assists”, or making a pass that leads to an assist on a goal.
“She was a good creative influence for us,” said Schultz. “This year she broke through and scored that big goal at Montesano to get us into the playoffs. She was the engine, and just the captain of our team.”
Tenino’s senior goalkeeper, Maria Collins, is the other Tenino player to earn All-Area honors. This season she turned in 92 saves, and outside of the Beaver’s unfortunate final game of the season at state, she only allowed 19 goals. Collins also managed to complete four shutouts on the season.
“She commanded things back there. She’s a great athlete and I think she has all the physical tools for a community college keeper, if not more,” said Schultz. “She made a lot of big time
saves and kept us in a lot of games.”
In Centralia it was Alayna Miller who did most of the heavy lifting this year. The junior scored 11 goals and three assists on the season, including nine goals in 2A Evergreen Conference matches.
Centralia coach Henry Gallanger said that Miller was forced to carry a lot of the weight for the Tigers this year due to a depleted lineup and a tough league schedule.
“She was called upon to do a lot on her own,” said Gallanger, noting that Miller was tabbed offensive MVP of the Tigers by her teammates.
Despite having the odds stacked against her Miller was still able to score more goals this year than she did last year, even as teams concentrated their focus on stopping her.
“That’s a testament to the fact that she had to learn how to score goals in new ways than she has in the past,” said Gallanger. “This year she was able to convert on PKs and free kicks pretty well and that really helped her point total.”
W.F. West is represented by both Courtney Bennett and Lauren Tornow. Bennett, a senior captain and center-midfielder, led the Bearcats in scoring with 11 goals while adding three assists and taking home first team All-League honors in the 2A EvCo. Meanwhile, Tornow, a sophomore, turned in 10 goals and six assists on her way to second team All-EvCo honors.
“Court kind of came into high school a real quiet kid but she really grew into a leader on the soccer field,” said W.F. West coach Allen Anderson about Bennett. “She really continued to develop in soccer for all four years. She’s just a great teammate and a fantastic kid to coach and somebody that I’m definitely going to miss after this year with her graduating.”
Luckily for Anderson, he’s still got two more years to work with the talented Tornow who has scored 30 varsity goals combined during her first two years of high school. Anderson noted that Tornow’s offensive output was down somewhat this year because she played the season with a broken bone in her foot and was forced to focus on distributing the ball to make up for her lack of explosiveness.
“Lauren is an incredible forward with amazing speed and she can finish with either her left or right foot,” said Anderson. “I think next year you’re going to see her really explode. I really feel like she is going to turn into the best attacking player in the league.”
In Napavine it was Halee Williams who played her way onto the All-Area team thanks to her five goals and eight assists in league play.
“She was a huge impact this year and I kind of was surprised because I didn’t get to see her last year because she had a gnarly knee injury so she didn’t get to play,” said Napavine coach Emily Boettcher. “We lost our whole midfield the year before and she came in strong. She’s a stud midfielder.”
In her return to the pitch during her junior season Williams made it clear that she’s a difference maker.
“I would call her one of my cheerleaders. She’s very encouraging on the field especially when other girls were getting down,” said Boettcher. “I never saw her once back down physically or mentally.”
Alexa Barragan was tabbed to the All-Area team in just her freshman year with Winlock after scoring 13 goals and posting three assists in league play.
“She pretty much had all of our goals,” said Winlock coach Brian Ziese. “She’s very talented with the ball but it was hard not having a whole lot of talent around her so she tried to do a lot on her own.”
As good as she was from the get go, Ziese said that as Barragan got experience under her belt her play continued to improve.
“She really, toward the second half, started figuring some things out and opening things up for her a little bit more,” said Ziese. “She was the leading scorer on our team and that’s as a freshman which is a big deal in our league.”
Adalee Sabin of Onalaska is the final member of the All-Area conglomerate. The Loggers senior turned plenty of heads this year as she flashed previously unknown skills on the pitch.
“She actually was a walk-on senior and she hadn’t played for me before. She’s just a great athlete who understands sports because she picked up on things really fast,” said Onalaska coach Chris Van Clifford. He noted that Sabin switched to a defensive position in state to help out the team and, “played like she’d played it all season.”
Sabin finished the regular season with five goals and five assists.
“Probably her most important goal was her goal against Toledo in the district game. That really kept us going,” said Van Clifford. “I was happy she played. She was great to have around.”
Making our way back around to Aselton and Dell, many readers may be wondering if there will ever be a way to figure out once and for all who the most valuable player in the area is?
Luckily for futbol fans it sounds like there may be an arrangement in the works to have Adna and Tenino square off early next season for a non-league clash of the titans. And while ties are as native to soccer as yellow jackets at a picnic, both Dell and Aselton seemed ready to embrace the idea of a real head-to-head match after playing a short jamboree match this year.
“I think it definitely helps playing against Teninio. We had a few games before hand and it was nice playing a bigger team,” said Aselton. “It was a good game. I liked playing against them during the scrimmages.”
Dell didn’t mince words when propositioned with the prospect of playing a game against the Pirates.
“I think that playing Adna would be a good battle for us. I look forward to it,” Dell said.