Golden Boot: Olivia Mitchell, Elmore County sophomore
Entering the season, Elmore County knew it had a few playmakers to work with but the Panthers wanted to find a consistent scoring threat to put in front of the goal. Mitchell quickly provided those goals as she often found herself on the end of teammates’ forward passes. She finished the season with a county-high nine goals including scorer a career-high four goals in a 7-0 win over Beauregard.
“I think it was experience and the strength of our midfield,” ECHS coach Angie Simmons said. “Olivia played club ball and that’s what helped her improve tremendously. I knew she had it in her and we knew she could do it but I’m not sure we expected that much. Everyone got better around her too and she benefited from that.”
Honorable Mention: Kayla Davis, So. Wetumpka; Amairanys Urbano, Jr., Stanhope Elmore; Ana Segarra, So., Holtville
Golden Gloves: Madison Milton, Wetumpka freshman
Wetumpka had a crowded competition for the starting goalkeeper spot but Milton made herself stand out above the rest with her in-game performances. In just her second year playing organized soccer, Milton kept Wetumpka in many games with save after save. She finished the year with more than 50 saves and recorded two clean sheets in the process. One of her most impressive moments came in a section game at Calera when she stopped a penalty kick.
“She showed a lot more confidence than I expected her to show and it developed as the season progressed,” Wetumpka coach Jessica Holbert said. “Plus, she has that competitiveness to want to be good at whatever she’s doing. Those were the two biggest things.”
Honorable Mention: Mackenzie Stephens, Jr., ECHS; Anna Dickson, Sr., Stanhope Elmore; Rylee Helus, So., Holtville
Playmaker: Raney Jones, Elmore County freshman
The reigning Elmore County Player of the Year was on many team’s radars this year and opponents focused in on slowing down Jones in game. She also dealt with a nagging foot injury throughout the season but those two things did not completely stop Jones from producing when the Panthers needed her to. She finished with six goals and three assists from the midfield. ECHS coach Angie Simmons said the Panthers’ success came directly from how many touches Jones got in the game.
“I feel like she was pressured a lot more this year because teams knew about her,” Simmons said. “I think she handled it really well. There were times she got frustrated because she wants to make things happen. I saw a lot of growth and maturity form her this year.”
Honorable Mention: Hailey Holbert, Jr., Wetumpka; Madison Graham, 8th, Holtville; Victoria Cortes, Sr., Stanhope Elmore
Brick Wall: Hope Staton, Holtville sophomore
Holtville’s defense allowed more than two goals per game and struggled with consistency at times but Staton remained a force in the middle no matter what the score line showed. Whether she was on the backline or in the midfield, Staton was crucial to Holtville’s success when it came to slowing down opposing attacks. She led the team with 23 tackles including a season-high five in a win over Chilton County.
“I think it’s her unselfish attitude,” Holtville coach David Lovering said. “She could’ve played anywhere on the field and we moved her around a lot but she never wanted to score the goals. She wanted to help out on the defense. She was always about helping others and creating opportunities for teammates to score. She was all over the place on defense.”
Honorable Mention: Kendall Downey, Sr., ECHS; Valeria Lopez, Sr., Stanhope Elmore; Bri Autrey, So., ECHS
Best Moment: Holtville’s PK shootout win over Elmore County
Holtville’s Blakley White was certainly not used to being put in the kind of situation she found herself in the season finale against rival Elmore County. The starting defender did not get a lot of opportunities in front of the goal but the Bulldogs turned to her during a sudden-death penalty shootout and she delivered with the game-winning goal to give Holtville a victory in Class4A/5A Section 4. The penalty kick capped off the come from behind win and it was the last kick of White’s career.
“It was kind of shocker,” Holtville coach David Lovering said. “She is a senior and it was her first penalty ever and she made it. To do that in her very last game made it an even bigger moment. (Her teammates) were all going nuts and taking pictures in front of the scoreboard. They were excited for the win itself but it was surreal that Blakley got it done.”
Honorable Mention: Elmore County’s Mirriam Foster scores first goal in return to soccer; Stanhope Elmore’s Victoria Cortes scores 7 goals at Capital of Dreams Tournament; Wetumpka’s Emily Smith scores hat trick against New Brockton