By TIM GAYLE
The North all-star soccer teams swept the South 2-0 and 2-1 at Alabama All-Stars Sports Week, but the outcome was in doubt in both games played at the Emory Folmar Soccer Complex, an indication the South has narrowed the gap that once existed in the sport.
In girls’ action, the North won for the 14th time in 17 meetings, but Tuesday’s game was certainly one of the most closely contested. The game was scoreless at the half and the best scoring opportunity came early in the second half on a penalty kick from Montgomery Academy’s Tara Katz.
Katz played virtually the entire 80 minutes of the contest, finally leaving the field in the final minutes after Madison Academy’s Emery Mills scored the game’s final score with less than 10 minutes remaining to give the North a 2-0 lead.
Mills, who assisted on the game’s first goal, earned most valuable player honors for the North. South goalkeeper Adriana Wright of Northview, who had nine saves, was the South MVP.
In addition to Katz, other local players on the all-star team included Bea Richardson of St. James, Janie Szoboszlay of Alabama Christian and Claire Mills of Catholic.
“It was awesome,” Mills said. “I liked meeting all the girls and getting new friends. It was great.”
And while the South failed to score in the game, Mills felt like her team put on a good performance in the contest.
“I definitely think we could have won, we just didn’t get our finishes,” Mills said. “But I felt like it was a pretty close game between the two of us.”
Like most of the all-stars, Mills hasn’t made any plans collegiately so the all-star exposure could certainly help her with college recruiters.
“I’m still looking at different places,” Mills said. “I think it is good (for getting attention from college coaches) because all of us on the field are equally good, so it’s easy for us to play our best since we have other players on a level with us.”
The boys’ game, while just as close on the scoreboard, presented a struggle for the South team in keeping up with the more dominant all-stars from the North, who won for the 13th time in 18 meetings. The South managed to tie the game at 1-1 midway through the second half on a goal from Spanish Fort’s Joseph Quinn before the North took the win on a goal by Price Leonard of Westminster-Oak Mountain.
“I thought we played really well,” said Montgomery Academy’s Bradley Westhauser, who along with Austin Lin of Alabama Christian represented the city in the event. “We only get one practice and to come together and play really well, I thought we did a great job.
“It was a great experience because you get to meet so many kids from across the state who are so skillful and great soccer players. It was an eye-opening experience.”