One more night
SMAC holds first all-star game for senior soccer players
Over the past decade, girls soccer programs from the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference’s Chesapeake Division, comprised of schools from Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, have found plenty of success in combining to win four state championships and producing another six state runner-up finishes.
On Tuesday night at North Point High School in Waldorf, senior all-stars from those teams joined forces to battle their Potomac Division counterparts, which make up all seven Charles County schools, in the first-ever SMAC girls soccer senior all-star game. Huntingtown’s Mia Issac and Leonardtown’s Tahjanae Hoffert both scored to contribute to the Chesapeake’s 2-1 win over the Charles County squad.
“It was fun playing against the other girls. It was a nice mixture,” said Hoffert, who was selected as the
Chesapeake player of the game after logging a goal and an assist in the contest. “It’s nice they put it together for us to be able to play.”
The teams played a scoreless first half, but Issac scored less than two minutes into the second half to give the Chesapeake squad a 1-0 advantage. Shortly thereafter, McDonough’s Peyton Carney found the net to pull the Potomac side even, but Hoffert eventually put the Chesapeake ahead to stay with her goal with close to 16 minutes remaining.
Thomas Stone goalie Zakaria Holt, who manned the net for the Potomac Division in the first half, was selected as the Potomac’s top player after stymieing the Chesapeake’s ferocious attack through the game’s first 40 minutes.
“It was pretty good,” Holt said of the experience. “Everybody challenged everybody. You saw the true talent out there. I had fun playing with everybody.”
Following the girls game, their male counterparts took the field for the boys all-star game. The Chesapeake team took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Patuxent’s Logan Miller less than a minute in and went on to build a 3-0 halftime lead before ultimately hanging on for a 5-3 victory over the Potomac.
In addition to Miller’s goal, Leonardtown players accounted for three goals with Nik Kokolios scoring twice and Lukas Delany once, while Calvert’s Carson Myles also tal- lied one for the victors. Andrew McKnight of St. Charles got the Potomac side rolling with its first goal early in the second half, while Thomas Stone’s Rodrigo Rosas and Lackey’s Evan Young also scored.
Coaching the Chesapeake squad was longtime Patuxent frontman Paul Gray, who is stepping down from his post with the Panthers’ program.
“It was awesome,” Gray said. “To be able to coach against players, on both sides, that I’ve coached and watched for four years was awesome. We had one little practice and a warmup before this game. To have the team come together and communicate, they’re seniors and they’re here so they’re self-driven and self-motivated, so it was so much fun to play. We had some great goals, great opportunities, it was a great squad over there [on the Potomac side]. It was a blast.”
La Plata head coach Chris Butler, who headed up the Potomac coaching staff, offered a similar assessment after watch- ing his squad cut a three-goal halftime deficit to 3-2 within the first six minutes of the second half before the Chesapeake team scored a couple to pull away.
“We told them, the coaches chose them because of their competitive nature and the [Chesapeake] side got up 3-0 and I told them, ‘We chose you because of your competitive nature,’” Butler said, referencing his halftime speech. “I thought we had quality opportunities in the first half, we just didn’t finish them.
“We kept on fighting, kept on plugging away and we scored two goals in the first minutes and turned it into a game. After that, it honestly was one of the funnest games I’ve coached, one of the funnest games I’ve been a part of, in both the camaraderie amongst both teams and the skill level and the passing and these kids have hardly played together. The soccer intelligence they had was really exciting. I had a great time.”
Members of the SMAC senior girls soccer all-star teams pose following the first conference all-star game on Tuesday night at North Point. The Chesapeake squad defeated its Potomac counterparts 2-1.
Northern’s Kaitlyn Parks controls the ball during action in the SMAC girls soccer senior all-star game at North Point on Tuesday night. Primarily a goalie during her high school career, Parks played in the field for the Chesapeake Division in the game and contributed an assist to the team’s 2-1 win over the Potomac Division.