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Big season ends with first-team spots for 5 area stars
Southeast Missouri's strong-est state tournament showing ever in girls soccer during the 2003 playoffs made an impression on coaches around the state as the release of the Class 1 and Class 2 all-state teams shows.
Five players were selected to the first teams and six to the second teams, while three more were bestowed honorable mention status by the Missouri Soccer Coaches Association.
Notre Dame, which reached the Class 1 state championship game, had six players honored, led by senior defender Ali Tyson and junior forward Sierra Ellis, both on the first team.
St. Vincent, which finished with a school-record 16 wins before bowing out to Notre Dame in the district finals, also had defender Chelsey Brown and forward Caitlin Hoeh, both seniors, chosen for the first team.
Jackson fought its way into the Class 2 quarterfinal round and had high-scoring sophomore forward Molly Hartmann picked for the first team, one of three players honored from a 22-3-1 team.
Class 1 second-team selections were junior goalie Katie Palmer, sophomore midfielder Lauren Mehner and junior forward Amanda Dirnberger, all of Notre Dame, and junior midfielder Amanda Carron of St. Vincent.
Class 2 second team selections were senior goalie Whitney Werner of Jackson and junior midfielder Megan McDonald of Central.
Gaining honorable mention were junior midfielder Kt Biri of Jackson, junior defender Emily Buehrle of Notre Dame and senior defender Jenna Schuessler of Perryville.
"Everyone down here represented the region very well," Notre Dame coach Jeff Worley said.
Notre Dame won its first district championship, and its previous best for all-state players was two.
"It's just one of those rewards for all their success, not only these five girls, but by all their teammates," Worley said.
Ellis, all-state as a freshman, led the offense with a school-record 24 goals.
Tyson anchored the defense in front of Palmer, who recorded a school-record 17 shutouts.
Both players also played important roles in Notre Dame's drive to the Class 4 state championship game in basketball just months earlier. As in basketball, Notre Dame ranked second in the final poll.
In winning its district, Notre Dame won a 2-1 squeaker against St. Vincent, which featured two college-bound players in Brown and Hoeh, both all-state honorable mention as juniors. Hoeh, who will play next year at Lindenwood University, broke her own school record with 34 goals. First-team all-state as a freshman, Hoeh finished her career with 106 goals.
Brown, a speedy defender who signed to play at Quincy University, had five goals and six assists.
"Chelsey and Caitlin both have similar ball skills," St. Vincent coach Eric Long said. " Chelsey plays with a lot of heart. Caitlin has good prowess around the net."
St. Vincent (16-9-1) ranked 11th in the final state poll.
After a strong freshman season, Hartmann turned into a scoring machine as a sophomore, netting a school-record 48 goals. Her 48th goal was a big one and ended a four-overtime contest against Francis Howell Central that gave Jackson its first sectional victory. She had 15 assists.
"She's a complete player," Jackson coach Zack Walton said. "She has great skill, a great shot and she sees the field real well."
She's also the second first-team all-state selection in her family, joining her sister Erin, a 2002 graduate of Jackson.
Werner, who had 30 shutouts over the past two seasons, repeated as a second-team selection. She recorded a school-record 16 shutouts in her senior season and allowed just nine goals.
Jackson finished sixth in the final poll.
McDonald provided both scoring and strong defense for Central. She recorded nine goals and had three assists while maintaining a defensive presence.
Dirnberger tallied 11 goals for Notre Dame, including the only goal in the state semifinal victory over Kansas City O'Hara, and had six assists. Mehner had seven goals and seven assists.
Carron finished with four goals and 14 assists for St. Vincent.
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