For the fifth straight year, West Valley Preps watched enough soccer to put together a credible all Northwest Valley team. Here it is:
F – Anacel Valenzuela-Acosta, senior, Millennium
F – Gabbie Hayes, forward, Estrella Foothills
F – Anna Ramirez, senior, Sunrise Mountain
MF – Belle Floyd, sophomore, Northwest Christian
MF – Jamie Brandon, freshman, Centennial
MF – Sierra Sweeney, senior, Paradise Honors
D – Karis Stull, senior, Millennium
D – Arianna Dillon, senior, Liberty
D – Belle Ress, senior, Northwest Christian
D – Sophie Konieczny, sophomore, Shadow Ridge
GK – Olivia Tribbett, senior, Kellis
F – Skylar Skelton, sophomore, Liberty
F – Sara Jones, junior, Cactus
F – Sydney Rolfe, junior, Paradise Honors
MF – Paige Garcia, sophomore, Willow Canyon
MF – Ariana Leamons, junior, Millennium
MF – Alexia Sanchez, senior, Deer Valley
MF – Maren Rice, senior, Millennium
D – Estrella Chavez, sophomore, Dysart
D – Lauren Hill, senior, Sunrise Mountain
D – Gabriella Giannini, softball, Estrella Foothills
GK – Bethany Heater, junior, Northwest Christian
Player of the year
Sierra Sweeney, senior, Paradise Honors – A new coach was all it took to truly unleash Sweeney’s attacking talents in her final season. She scored 10 goals and added three assists as a junior, then skyrocketed to 39 goals and 21 assists this season. The Panthers were on a similar upward trajectory, reversing fortunes fom 4-9 in 2018-19 to 11-4 in 2019-20. A creative inspiration from anew system and more attacking talent around Sweeney lead to some truly spectacular numbers for the Ottawa-bound offensive dynamo. And Paradise Honors had the best season in program history, returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Karis Stull, senior, Millennium – Once again, Millennium was deep and multi-faceted enough that choosing an individual player to honor was difficult. However, Stull was chosen the 5A Desert West Region defensive player of the year and led the Tigers with 128 steals of the ball. Since the Millennium attack ended in many ways, maybe it is best to credit the player who started the transition to attack more than any other. And being named the sole captain on a 29-player roster has to count for something.
Coach of the year
Scott Bergeron, Paradise Honors – The former Shadow Ridge boys coach took his new program in southwest Surprise by storm. He switched the Panthers’ focus to passing triangles and two- and three-touch soccer and the team took off. Paradise Honors finished its 15-game season with 93 goals. And it was not all padding stats against overmatched small schools. Bergeron’s team let in two late goals but was competitive with defending 3A champion Northwest Christian for 65 minutes. Then the Panthers pushed this season’s state champion Gilbert Christian on the road before falling 3-2. And even Paradise Honors’ playoff loss looks better in retrospect. No. 8 seed Sahuarita knocked off the Panthers 2-1 in the first round, then made a surprising run all the way to the state final.
Marc Shrake, Centennial – Certainly, the second-year coach had more talent at his disposal this time around. But Shrake molded it together into a coherent squad faster than coald have been expected. The Coyotes returned to the postseason and pushed Sunrise Mountain for the Northwest Region title in the final regular season game — until a bit of a flukish last minute goal sent the Mustangs through. Centennial is a program to watch next season.