Commentary

Small schools achieve big goals in 2009

Updated: December 16, 2009, 8:57 AM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPN RISE

While much of the fall high school soccer coverage focuses on the FAB 50 programs, there were several non-FAB 50 finishers who are worth mentioning. In most of these cases, these programs dominated on the small school and/or small state level, but did not crack the nation's elite. Today, our attention is on the girls' programs that could be considered small schools with big results.

Archbishop Murphy (Everett, Wash.): With five players headed to NCAA Division I programs, Murphy delivered a perfect season, going 23-0 and winning the Class 2A state title.

Billings Central (Billings, Mont.): In a battle of undefeated teams, Billing Central used overtime goals by Jackie Elliott and Holly Davidson to defeat Libby 4-2 in the final and finish 14-0.

Brunswick (Maine): They will be forever known as the Comeback Kids in Maine. Brunswick trailed in every playoff match, but rallied each time to claim the Class A state title and finish a perfect 18-0 on the season. Allison Waton scored twice in the final.

George's Valley (Maine): After years of playoff failures to established powers North Yarmouth Academy and Waynflete, George's Valley broke through for a Class C state title. The team's 16-0-2 is impressive, but what is really eye-opening is the team did it with eight freshmen.

Gladstone (Ore.): While it wasn't a major upset, Gladstone's 2-0 victory over perennial power Catlin Gabel is certainly noteworthy. Gladstone keeper Elise Breshears ended the year with 14 shutouts, the final one denying Catlin Gabel its 13th state title since 1992. Freshman Amber Jensen scored Gladstone's first goal before the team received an own goal for the final margin.

Seattle Academy (Seattle, Wash.): The Cardinals repeated as Class 1A state champs led by a trio of college-bound players and a coach who was selected as the state's Coach of the Year. Colorado College commit Sierra Keeler became the school's all-time leading scorer with 89 career goals. Oregon commit Achijah Berry is a two-time all-league player. Keeper Talia Schulman recorded 40 career shutouts. Meanwhile, Rob Phillips was named the Washington Coach of the Year.

St. Thomas More (Rapid City, S.D.): Maria Gonzalez was shut out in the final, but she converted the game-winning penalty kick as St. Thomas More edged Aberdeen on PKs following a scoreless match to claim the Class A state title. Gonzalez graduates as the state's all-time leading scorer with 104 goals.

Stevens (Rapid City, S.D.): Felicia Reimann's 10th shutout of the season helped Stevens to a 1-0 Class AA sate title over Spearfish. Stevens finished the year 14-0-1. Next month, the state association will consider arguments to add high school soccer as a sanctioned sport. It is currently run through the state's youth soccer organization, making South Dakota the only state without sanctioned soccer.

University (Morgantown, W.Va.): Kaylynn Petrisin's goal carried University to a 1-0 victory over Hurricane in the Class AAA state final, capping a 23-0-2 season.

Woonsocket (R.I.): Although the state final was marred with a postgame brawl that spilled into the stands and received national attention, it does not take away from Woonsocket's 5-0 victory over Tolman that capped a 17-0-1 season. The result was a shot in the arm for a Northeast town that has been hit hard by the economic downturn. Rhode Island has the third-highest unemployment rate in the country at 12.9 percent as of December 1, 2009, and Woonsocket's unemployment rate is above the state average.

Sheldon Shealer covers youth soccer for ESPNRISE.com. He can be reached at Sheldon.Shealer@espn.com.