The numbers don't necessarily jump off the page, with Lippitt finishing the year with four goals and six assists. But the points he got were always big ones, including the team's lone goal in a 1-1 tie against River Hill, and he did so many other things for a relatively inexperienced Golden Bears' team. Cutler says Lippitt really grew into a leadership role as a senior. "Jon was giving our pregame talks by the end of the year," he said.
Jake Turney, River Hill. A repeat first-team selection, Turney was even bigger and stronger this fall. The extra muscle and fitness allowed him to play more minutes and handle the attention of being man-marked pretty much all the time, sometimes by two guys. "It was no secret, Jake was the focal point for other teams and he handled it well," coach Matt Shagogue said. "His work rate is so tremendous that we were able to move him around and find ways to free him up. And when he gets the ball, he holds off defenders so well that he's always dangerous no matter where he is."
There were big games littered all over the place on the way to eight goals and five assists this fall, including game-winners against Mt. Hebron and Atholton. As a captain this year as a junior, Turney is the first non-senior captain Shagogue has had since taking over in 2006.
Emmanuel Wright, Mt. Hebron. After a terrific finish to his junior year, helping lead the Vikings to the state finals, Wright picked up right where he left off this fall and went on to lead the county in scoring with 15 goals and 6 assists. Even more impressive than the totals was that he managed to score at least one goal in 12 of the team's 16 games, including a score in each of the team's first seven contests.
Wright was one of the county's shortest forwards, but his speed and finishing ability was up there with the very best. "If you gave him an inch he was going to take a mile," coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. "From the middle of last year through the end of his senior year, he literally seemed to get better with every practice and every game. He was a threat whenever he touched the ball."
John Joseph, Oakland Mills. One of the county's most physically gifted players, Joseph was among the top five in the league in scoring this fall with 29 points (9 goals and 11 assists). But as his coach Don Shea points out, he often sacrificed personal glory for the betterment of the team. "JJ gave up a lot of individual statistics in order to form the other strikers around him, especially early in the season," Shea said. "He was truly a team player and leader for us on and off the field, maybe even more so off the field."
Of his nine goals on the season, five were of the game-winning variety. Shea also credited Joseph for leading a lot of the offseason activity over the years that helped the program go from 4-10-1 in 2009 to 13-4 this season.
Zach Riso, River Hill. As good as anyone in the county at playing with either foot, Riso came into his own this season as a junior. Spending time in a number of different roles, primarily in the midfield, he seemed to find another gear once the postseason rolled around. In River Hill's four playoff games, he had a hand in all eight of the team's goals, registering six goals and two assists. "I think that's the best run we've ever had with one player since I've been here," coach Matt Shagogue said. "It really was amazing to watch. I mean, he scored more than half his goals this season in the playoffs alone."
On the year, Riso finished with 11 goals and eight assists, putting him fourth best among county players in total points. Shagogue says, though, that it's his "ability to do pretty much everything," that really set him apart.
Emilio Rodas, Reservoir. Rodas moved up to the midfield this fall after playing outside defense as a sophomore and the results were outstanding. He missed the first few games, although once he got on the field, he was the one controlling play. He was a key facilitator in the transition game, but his real calling card was his efficiency on free kicks and corners. "We really worked on set pieces and Emilio could put it on a dime, even all the way over to the back post," coach Reg Hahne said. "He's so skilled and reads the game very well. He makes things happen."
Rodas finished the year with a goal and eight assists, thriving particularly in the postseason. It was his corner kicks that set up the game-winning goals against Centennial (3A East semis) and Urbana (3A state championship) in the playoffs.
Christian Von Rautenkranz, Glenelg. The Gladiators (6-6-1) improved for the third straight season and Von Rautenkranz was front and center every step of the way. Terrific both on and off the ball, a lot of what Glenelg was able to build offensively stemmed from his work in the middle. "He's the motor for us … our nucleus I guess you could say, " coach Andy Shearer said. "He's the one who ignites our intensity, starts the play and gets it forward."
His numbers, three goals and five assists, only tell a piece of the story, as the little things he did were just as important when it came to winning games. "Christian and this senior group have truly paved the way for our program," Shearer said.
Peter Vorel, Centennial. For an Eagles' team decimated by injuries most of the year, Vorel was the rock in the middle from day one. His leadership as a third-year captain was invaluable and was a major reason Centennial had one of its best seasons in the last two decades, finishing second in the county standings. "He was the guy who always kept a balance for us … so cool in every situation," coach Jim Zehe said. "He's always been one of those guys that doesn't have to say a lot to lead because his play speaks for itself."
Among the highlights was scoring both of the Eagles' goals in a comeback victory over Oakland Mills late in the year. On the season, he finished with 19 points (six goals and 7 assists) to lead the team.
Javier Wardcantrori, Reservoir. The senior captain was the heart and soul of the Gators when it came to leadership. "From the point of view of training and getting us organized, he was the guy for us," coach Reg Hahne said. "He practiced hard and played even harder … the perfect leader."
Wardcantrori registered only five goals and three assists this season, but his points came in big moments. He scored two of the team's five goals in a state semifinal victory over Huntingtown and accounted for one of three scores in a state championship win against Urbana. His chemistry with Emilio Rodas proved to be the key to Reservoir's run through the playoffs. "They played off one another extremely well and that made us hard to beat," Hahne said.
Connor Delaney, Marriotts Ridge. Standing 6-foot-3, with speed and athleticism, Delaney was a match-up nightmare on both ends of the field. He literally played a level above everyone else. "For Connor it all starts with balls in the air," coach Kevin Flynn said. "On offense we would push him up for long throws and corners and that's how he got most of his goals. Then, on defense, he dominated by winning punts and goal kicks. The ball is in the air a lot in high school soccer and there are very few better than him in that area."