With a wealth of individual women’s football talent in the region, there were many athletes who deserved recognition on the Commonwealth Journal All-County Team this fall. Additionally, many of the top players earned the Commonwealth Journal Player of the Year honor.
But one person stood out from the rest for the highest honor.
Southwestern High School senior Bekah Clark has been named the Commonwealth Journal’s 2021 Women’s Soccer Player of the Year – not just for her outstanding play last fall, but for her consistent high level of play throughout her career as Lady Warrior.
Clark, who was named to her fourth straight CJ All-County team, dished out 23 assists last fall — which ranked her 11th in the state. Clark scored 21 goals and ended his high school career as the Lady Warriors’ all-time football assist leader with 62.
“Bekah has had a remarkable final year in what is an outstanding career at Southwestern,” said Southwestern High School women’s soccer coach Nick Stringer. “She was the leader of our offense despite being third on our team in goals scored, and our team ranked fourth in the state in goals and number one in goal margin.”
“I’ve coached a lot of good scorers at Southwestern, but I’ve never coached someone who’s better at creating goals for his team like Bekah Clark,” boasted Stringer. “We all knew that when the attack broke down or sputtered, we could put the ball at Bekah’s feet and she could do something from nothing. Her dribbling skills and her vision draw several defenders towards her while her knack for finding open players and her ability to finish in tight spaces makes her difficult to overtake. Teams had to decide whether they wanted Bekah to be a shooter or a setter, but this season she has been extremely effective at both.”
Clark’s junior teammate Carinne Souders, who was named the Commonwealth Journal’s Women’s Soccer Player of the Year last season as a sophomore, was the candidate for Player of the Year.
For the second straight year, Souders led the county in scoring with 32 goals – ranking her 25th in the state. Souders also had 15 assists and ranked 23rd in the state overall with 79 total points.
“Carinne has had another amazing year scoring goals for us,” Stringer said. “She was already one of the best athletes on the team, but she dedicated her entire offseason working with our strength and conditioning coach to improve her strength and speed. You could tell from day one of pre -season that she was going to go to another level this year.”
“Carinne has the perfect blend of speed, strength and technical ability to be a dominant striker,” added Stringer. “In the past, she relied on the power of her shot to score goals, but this season she has improved her finishing finesse and added the ability to finish goals in the air. She is extremely dedicated to improving in as a player and never satisfied.”
Southwest senior Ella Vaught was named to her second straight CJ All-County team. At center back, Vaught anchored the Lady Warriors defense – which ranked ninth in the state in goals against. Despite her defensive position, Vaught scored one attacking goal and was credited with two assists.
“Ella is a four-year starter on our back line and played almost every significant minute for us her entire high school career,” Stringer said. “She was the heart and soul of our defence. Due to the nature of her position, she did not receive as much praise or credit as some of her peers, but she was just as important to our success. over the past four years than anyone else.”
“Ella is a great athlete with the strength and speed to stop the best hitters in the state,” Stringer said. “She has booming goal kicks and free kicks. While her tangible skills are impressive, it’s the non-tangibles that set her apart from other players. Ella’s leadership has driven this team to give every ounce of energy she had in every game. She provided as much direction and input into the half-time adjustments as I do. Her mood is always upbeat and consistent in every practice and every game.
Southwest senior Kelsey Miller was another of the Lady Warriors’ most successful forwards. Miller, who was named to her second straight CJ All-County team, scored 28 goals and provided 14 assists.
“Kelsey had another fantastic season scoring goals for us, but he was also much more involved in attack with 14 assists,” Stringer said. “Kelsey was a dynamic player wide on the left for us. She has the ability to use both feet which makes her a nightmare for opposing defences. If they forced her wide she could get in line and cross the ball with her left foot.If they forced her in the middle, she was able to finish systematically at the back post with her right.
Southwest senior Kate Hutchinson was an important part of the Lady Warriors state-ranked defense. As a defensive left-back, Hutchinson was always credited with one goal and two assists.
“Kate was our last piece in the backline this season, turning a position of uncertainty into a position of strength,” Stringer said. “She had played exclusively in midfield in her previous two college seasons, but we asked her to make the switch this season due to a small change in formation. Her ability to seamlessly transition to the backline really freed up our team to become more attacking, had the ability to play on the left or right side and was instrumental in the regional tournament by shutting down a half on the pitch.
Somerset junior Jolie May made her second consecutive CJ All-County team. In midfield, May scored 18 goals and provided two assists for the Lady Jumpers.
“Jo has anchored the center of the field for us this year,” said Somerset High School women’s soccer coach Steve Watkins. “She is extremely athletic, has a solid knowledge of football, is able to stop opposition attacks, while finding ways to create scoring opportunities. She is the engine that drives our team.”
Somerset junior Grace Bruner has been named to her second straight CJ All-County team. Grace Bruner led the Lady Jumpers with 31 goals scored.
“Grace is an athlete and a driven person,” Watkins said. “She caught the eye of opposing defenses but still managed to produce as the team’s leading scorer.”
Somerset junior Kate Bruner was also named to her second straight All-County team. Kate Bruner had a balanced offensive offense with 14 goals and 12 assists.
“Kate has developed into a solid midfielder, wreaking havoc with her relentless effort and physical play,” Watkins said. “She’s an 18-18 player, making her presence known all over the pitch.”
Somerset rookie Tori Robertson transitioned from college football to high school football with no problem. Robertson scored 16 goals and had 16 assists in his freshman year on the Lady Jumpers varsity team.
“I would say Tori is the best technical player in the area,” Watkins boasted. “She has calm control of the ball and every time she has possession there is a real threat to scoring chances.”
Somerset senior Rachel Tomlinson was named to her second consecutive CJ All-County team for her defensive skills. Mainly used as a defender, Tomlinson still managed to score three goals over the year.
“Rachel was the anchor of our defense and was what every coach hopes for in senior leadership,” Watkins said.
Pulaski County junior Maddie Sexton was named to her third straight CJ All-County team. Maddie Sexton led the Lady Maroons with 12 goals scored.
“Maddie Sexton has overcome multiple injuries this season while continuing to support all team activities and lead the team in scoring,” said the Pulaski County High School Women’s Soccer Coach. , Chris Fabrizio.
Pulaski County High School junior Allie Sexton made her second consecutive CJ All-County team. Allie Sexton has scored eight goals and five assists this year.
“Allie Sexton has excelled in multiple offensive and defensive positions – due to significant injuries that continually alter our lineup,” Fabrizio said. “She has always led our team in assists.”
Pulaski County High School senior Lexi Nicholas was named to her first-team CJ All-County. Nicholas scored three goals and had two assists.
“Lexi solidified the defensive midfielder and exemplified leadership on and off the pitch,” Fabrizio said.
Pulaski County senior Camille Powell was named to her second straight CJ All-County team. Despite playing almost every position on the pitch, Powell still managed to score a second-best team with nine goals.
“Camille has been placed in several new positions this year and has been able to turn those opportunities into a positive impact on his teammates,” Fabrizio said.