Finally back to a – somewhat – normal season after the threat of Triple E in 2019 and COVID-19 last fall, this fall season has been a welcome sight for many local high school athletes.
Whether on the football field or the winding course of a cross-country course, athletes were finally able to compete for the state championships this fall after the MIAA playoffs closed last year.
Along the way, local athletes have made their names athletically with star-studded performances and trophy-towing moments.
So without further ado, the Daily News presents its fall All-Stars for women’s soccer:
Emma Ballard, Blackstone Valley Technician
The savvy senior has scored 28 goals and added 10 assists for a BVT side that has lost just twice all season. During her career, Ballard racked up 113 goals and 37 assists and ended her time with the Beavers by being named to the Division 4 Central Mass All-State squad. the playoffs. “Her talent for finding the back of the net and getting the players around her to perform better has always been there,” said BVT coach Jay Porter. A talented basketball and softball player, Ballard wanted to study nursing in college.
Ashley Butler, Hopkinton
This team captain thrived in her role of defending the other team’s top player. Voted the team’s MVP, Butler was also named to the Eastern States Second Team. Even though his responsibility was to connect offense to defense, Butler scored two goals and added six assists for the Hillers. âAshley is an athletic and intelligent football player with tireless work and excellent vision on the pitch,â said Hopkinton coach Tom Skiba. “She brings energy, leadership and fun to every training session.” A Tri-Valley League star, Butler will continue her football career at Vassar College.
Caleigh Christensen, Nipmuc
The quarterback for a talented Nipmuc team that went 12-5-1, Christensen went from attacking midfielder last season to central defender or starting midfielder this fall. Despite the change of scenery, she scored six goals and added four assists and was named to the Central Mass Division 3 squad. All-State. “Caleigh has an incredible work ethic, whether it’s in training or in a game,” said Nipmuc coach Stephen Khoury. “His passion and skill for the game is at such a high level.” Christensen will attend Merrimack College and play Division I football.
Rory Clare, Wellesley
One of only two Daily News stars to be named in Eastern Mass. All-New England, All-State First Team, Clare was the Raiders field general. As versatile as she is, Clare has created scoring opportunities for herself and her teammates. She scored 21 goals and added nine assists and was named the Herget Division MVP of the Bay State Conference. “Although she is a phenomenal leader and sets an example on the court, she is an outstanding student and a great role model off the court as well,” said Wellesley coach Steve Bailen. Clare made a commitment to track running at Columbia University.
Nicola Donlan, Lincoln-Sudbury
Known for her prowess on the lacrosse field, this senior LS was no slouch in the field this fall. From her central position and midfield, Donlan scored two goals and added an assist as she led a Warriors defense that allowed just 21 goals in 18 games. This season, Donlan was named to the Eastern Massachusetts States Second Team and earned her second Dual County League First Team All-Star honor. A commitment from Tufts University to lacrosse, Donlan enjoys studying psychology and coaching youth in soccer and lacrosse.
Cate Flanagan, Nipmuc
Despite the usual double-teaming of opposing teams, this senior striker dominated all of Central Mass. with 30 goals and 16 assists. Flanagan played a key role in the Warriors claiming a share of the Dual Valley conference title and was named to the Central Mass Division 3 squad. All-State. “Cate is playing the game with a high level of skill and a fire in the stomach,” said Nipmuc coach Stephen Khoury. “She forced the teams to come up with targeted game plans to try and slow her down.” Flanagan will play Division I soccer at Siena College.
Brooke Haarala, Framingham
In her first and only season at Framingham High, the senior made a name for himself on the pitch with the Flyers. As team captain, Haarala led Framingham in goals with 12 goals and added four assists to be named Team and First Team MVP of Eastern States of the Massachusetts. A member of the New England Futbol Club, Haarala is also a member of the National Honor Society and works for the Framingham Baking Company. A fan of the beach and cats, Haarala will study science and play Division I football at Purdue University.
Kyra Hacker, Natick
The heart and soul of Natick’s Division 1 state champions, Hacker kept the fort in its center-back position for the Redhawks. She helped Natick register 14 shutouts during his 17-1-5 campaign that culminated in Natick’s first-ever state title. Hacker also added eight assists and one goal, and was named to the New England Eastern States First Team. Hacker, who plays at the New England Futbol Club Girls Academy and is a CORE member of the TOPS Soccer program, plans to study biology and play soccer at Bowdoin College.
Rachel Herman, Dover-Sherborn
With a penchant for singing the national anthem, the senior midfielder has made the show in his only season with the Raiders. After playing in the FC Stars development academy during his first three years of high school, Herman joined DS this fall and scored nine goals and added 11 assists. âElite foot skills, football IQ and work ethic,â said DS coach Evren Gunduz. âA campaign general and a formidable leader. Named to the Eastern Massachusetts State First Team, Herman will play Division I football at the University of Pennsylvania, where she will study business at Wharton School.
Allison Jeter, Natick
The vocal leader of Natick’s talented team, this senior goaltender was the eyes, ears and mouth of the Division 1 state champions. Jeter, who started in a freshman when the Redhawks last played. in a state final, recorded 14 clean sheets and a 0.51 goals-against average en route to being named to Eastern Mass’s first team. A three-sport athlete who also plays basketball and tennis, Jeter also played football for the New England Futbol Club. She will play football at Central Connecticut State University.
Caroline Kelly, Algonquin
A four-season varsity player for Algonquin, this captain and senior forward – who goes by the name âCKâ – couldn’t be taken off the ball this fall. Kelly led her team and the Midland-Wachusett League A in points with eight goals and 12 assists. She was voted a member of the MWL All-Star First Team and selected in Division 1 Central Mass. All-State Team. âThe accomplishments and accolades during CK’s career are many, but tell only part of the story,â said Algonquin coach John Clifford. “More than any of them, at least for me as a coach, it’s his consistency.” Kelly will be playing football at Tufts University.
Mia Luisi, Holliston
With an impressive mix of speed and endurance, this senior midfielder was the burst of energy Holliston needed this fall. Luisi, a four-year-old college start, scored five goals and added seven assists for the Panthers in her final season in high school. Three times on the Tri-Valley League All-Star Team, Luisi was also named to the Eastern Massachusetts State First Team this fall. âShe’s so smart and skillful with the ball and has sacrificed her scoring stats this year to give us more defensive help in midfield,â said Holliston coach Brielle Chadsey. “A real team player.”
Shannon Mejia, Medway
Speaking of team players, this junior went from goalie to attacker with three games remaining in the regular season and scored four goals in five games – including Medway’s lone score in a tournament win against Pentucket. As a goaltender, Mejia had nine shutouts after being thrown into the net for the first time with an injury to the original Mustangs goaltender. âShannon is the best athlete in the school; she can dominate anywhere on the pitch, âsaid Medway coach Jason Rojee. A college basketball player for three years, Mejia enjoys snowboarding and hopes to play soccer and study business in college.
Ava VanBuskirk, Marlborough
Only a sophomore, this player may be short, but she stood on the pitch and was Marlborough’s top scorer this fall. “Ava is tiny but plays like a giant,” said Marlborough coach Gerry Padilla. “Most schools struggled to defend his speed and strength with the ball.” VanBuskirk scored 26 goals and added three assists en route to being named to the Division 2 State team Central Mass. A sophomore team captain, VanBuskirk also does indoor and outdoor tracks and holds the Marlborough High records for fastest times in the 55m and 400m.
Kristin Wilichowski, Westborough
This senior center-back was the main shield for a Rangers team that advanced to the Division 2 (or Final Four) semi-finals. A four-year-old college debutant, Wilichowski was the main reason her team allowed just two goals in 14 regular-season games to lead the Rangers to an 11-0-5 record heading into the playoffs. Named to the Central Mass Division 2 squad. All-State, Wilichowski also plays basketball and does outdoor track and field. In charge of the Westborough High School yearbook, she plans to study psychology in college and hopefully continue her football career.
Anya Zub, Franklin
A sophomore sensation for the Panthers this fall, Zub has scored 20 goals and distributed six assists to help lead first-year head coach Jodi Klein’s squad. A Franklin forward, Zub was named to the East Mass State First Team.
“She enthusiastically accepts the pressure to be our top goalscorer, supports both her younger and older teammates on and off the pitch and is very coachable,” Klein said. Zub also enjoys photography and wants to pursue his athletic career in college.