Accolades pile up for girls’ soccerThe success of the Wildcat girls’ soccer team this season is on full display with the release of the 2011 All-Big Rivers Conference teams.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
The success of the Wildcat girls’ soccer team this season is on full display with the release of the 2011 All-Big Rivers Conference teams.
Nine Wildcats were honored by the conference coaches, including five players named to the All-BRC First Team, after the Cats put together an undefeated conference record (11-0-1) and earned their first-ever trip to the WIAA State Tournament.
Seniors Sarah Vitale and Taylor Kizlik, and juniors Bailey LaPoint, Sierra Becker and Paige Meyer were all named to the All-BRC First Team, seniors Tara Frey and Sandra Meyer and junior Jenna Kizlik were named to the Second Team, and sophomore Nichole Ullom received Honorable Mention.
In addition, Wildcat coach Charles Conley was selected as the BRC Coach of the Year.
Vitale led the Wildcats in scoring this season with 30 goals and 14 assists for 74 points while LaPoint was second in scoring with 14 goals and 12 assists for 40 points and Taylor Kizlik was third with nine goals and 17 assists for 35 points.
Becker anchored a defense in front of goalkeeper Paige Meyer that allowed just one goal in regular season play while recording 16 shutouts.
Vitale was also named the team’s MVP and Offensive Player of the Year while Becker was named Defensive Player of the Year and Ullom received the Rookie of the Year award and senior Tara Frey earned the Coach’s Award.
Conley, in his first season as Wildcat girls’ coach, said the players on this year’s team, which finished the season with an overall record of 20-1-1 and reached the WIAA State Tournament quarterfinals, set a precedence of excellence that laid the groundwork for what he hopes is a proud tradition for River Falls soccer.
“The girls proved to themselves just what they are capable of, and they have instilled that confidence and knowledge of what it takes to get to that point,” he said. “Getting to state is a very hard task to achieve, and having the confidence that they are capable of getting there is half the battle. I’ve highly emphasized the importance of goal setting since day one when I walked in the door, and effective goal setting at that. Set lofty goals and aspire to be great: Why not? What do we have to lose? I think that this group learned that if you set your sights high, give everything that you’ve got to working towards achieving these goals, anything can be accomplished.”
Vitale, Frey, Taylor Kizlik and Sandra Meyer are among a group of 10 seniors that also includes Emily Blasius, Katie Berndt, Paige Lucking, Brenna Swanson, Mariah Kaiser and Roxie Fusilier who Conley said were instrumental in the team’s success.
“We could not have done this without the leadership from this outstanding senior class,” he said. “Every year, in every program I have ever coached, I really challenge the seniors to be leaders, to carry the group and to establish an identity for our team in any given season.”
Conley had a simple and straightforward message for his graduating seniors: “Good luck, girls. You are the first-ever back-to-back Big Rivers Conference champions at River Falls High School; you are the first-ever section champions at River Falls High School, and the first-ever state tournament qualifiers at River Falls High School; an achievement you will never forget. You have laid the foundation for what we hope to be many, many trips to state and a proud tradition of great soccer at River Falls High School.
“Congratulations to all of you on these accomplishments, but more importantly your success
academically and not only getting to this point in your lives, earning your diplomas, but excelling while getting here,” he added. “Your hard work and efforts have paid off, you are all excellent young adults and it has been a great pleasure to work with you. Best of luck to all of you in your future endeavors.”
As far as the returning players, Conley said they’ve learned what it takes to win a sectional championship and get to state, and will be eager to repeat those accomplishments next season.
“The underclassmen now know what it takes to get there, but most importantly they have the confidence that they can get there; this is half the battle,” he said. “It’s been a season to remember, and if this is any sign of things to come, River Falls High School has a bright future in women’s soccer.”