Hamilton’s girls soccer team won its first state championship in school history last month, and it’s because the Huskies’ best player and team captain contracted the “kissing disease” seven years ago.
Making out in the playground in fifth grade isn’t how Rylie Johnson contracted mononucleosis — she promises — but the fatigue and lack of energy forced her out of competitive swimming after she couldn’t keep up physically.
Her parents played baseball and softball, but her older brother played competitive soccer (he’s now finishing his career and graduating from Webster University in May).
“Soccer kind of came in and took over,” she said.
For the past four months, Johnson became the Tribune Girls Soccer Player of the Year because she took over soccer.
The senior forward/midfielder had 25 goals and 13 assists this season. Those numbers were trumped by others, but isn’t timing everything?
She knocked in an unstoppable kick from 25 yards out in late January to beat Xavier. After the Huskies forged an undefeated regular season (which included both the Diablo and Dobson Mustang Classic tournament championships), Johnson had a hat trick in the first round of the 5A Division I playoffs against Phoenix Alhambra.
She had a goal and assisted on the game-winner against Mesquite in the 5A-I semifinals and gave a perfect feed to Sam Weiss for the only goal in the Huskies’ 1-0 victory against Xavier in the state championship match.
A few minutes later, she was back patrolling and clearing on defense as Xavier made a furious run in the final minutes. Johnson played defense at times during club ball, but never in this context.
“There was a little shock and nerves because if anything happens it had to go through the defense,” she said. “If I get the ball anywhere around me and you’re a player, you’re going to be on the ground and the ball is going a long way the other way.”
When former coach Kirk Nelson left Hamilton to become a college assistant before last season and assistant Jason Thompson took over the program, the vibe became a bit more relaxed and hands-off. Thompson let Johnson, Weiss, Taylor Korytko and Megan Harder run the team, something he said was rarely done previously. But he was comfortable with this senior class.
There was one exception. On the Saturday bus ride back to school after winning the Dobson tournament, the whispers began about a state championship possibility (though they hadn’t yet played Xavier).
On that Monday, Thompson ran his team for 45 minutes.
“We were pissed,” Johnson said. “He really needed us to stay humble. We were bragging and talking but the idea nobody had beaten us, and he always put that in our minds. He kept us grounded through the whole thing.”
Johnson, however, is taking off again this fall. She had two requisites when it came to college: Play soccer and be next to a beach.
She didn’t know about Coastal Carolina until a club tournament in Houston last year, when Corona del Sol coach Matt Smith helped set up the player with the program.
“As the time gets near I’m more nervous,” she said. “I’m a homebody.”
It was mentioned to Johnson that she did rule the roost among 15 other girls, making nearly every clutch play and switching positions in the middle of a championship with little prior experience.\
That worked out.
“I was going to take those challenges,” she said. “No matter what happens I’m going to play each the game the way it’s supposed to be. It wasn’t pressure, it was just another challenge.”
All-Tribune First Team
Player School Pos. Yr. Comment
Jorian Baucom Pinnacle F Fr. U.S. National Youth team member had 39 goals
Ashley Hatch Highland F So. Extra defensive attention didn’t matter: 29 goals
Alex Doller Marcos de Niza F Sr. Talented offensive player had 40 goals (8 in playoffs)
Rylie Johnson Hamilton F Sr. Came through in the clutch every time for 5A-I champs
Mackenzie Semerad Desert Vista MF Sr. Best midfielder in state two years in a row
Beau Bremer Pinnacle MF Sr. Heart and soul of 5A-II champions with 18 goals
Lauren Lazo Cactus Shadows MF Sr. Headed to Princeton after 57-point season
Nikki Walts Xavier MF Fr. 22 goals, 9 assists as freshman
Jordan Bergeson Mesquite D Sr. Led team in assists; missed postseason with cracked liver
MyKaylin Rosenquist Corona del Sol D Sr. CDS allowed four goals when she was in back
Kellie Peay Xavier D Fr. As good in back as teammate Walts was up front
Laura Glew Hamilton GK Jr. 19 shutouts, .156 goals against average
Player of the Year: Rylie Johnson, Hamilton
Coach of the Year: Jason Thompson, Hamilton: Although a contender from the start, Thompson seemingly made every right move in the Huskies winning their first girls soccer state championship.
All-Tribune Second Team
Player School Pos. Yr. Comment
Chandler Broadrick Arcadia Sr. F Two-time first team pick in the East Sky Region
Sam Weiss Hamilton Sr. F GW goal in state championship; had 39 total points
Taylor Reisdorf Notre Dame Sr. F Part of dynamic duo with younger sister Madison
Emily Holzmeister Xavier Jr. MF Team captain; one of top underclassmen in state
Nicole Zeidler Chaparral Sr. MF All-State selection by coaches
Melina Cox-Ferreras Red Mtn. Sr. MF Top-notch defender; had 35 percent of Lions’ offense
Jordyn Greenberg Desert Mtn. Sr. MF All-State selection holds multiple school records
Olivia Montoya Corona del Sol So. D Consistent outside backer saved six shots off goal line
Kristin Sankey Marcos de Niza Sr. D School-record 18 assists and five goals; headed to UNLV
Alyssa Wooden Mesquite Sr. D Led in points (16 goals, 13 assists) for state semifinalists
Taylor Rice Mesquite Sr. GK Split time with Dani Schultz for best GK duo in state
Apache Junction: Sabrina Crawford, Sr., GK.
Arcadia: Maddie Thorn, Sr., MF.
Basha: Jazmarie Mader, Fr., D.
Cactus Shadows: Taryn McClendon, Sr., F; Bethany Park, Sr., F; Kelli Reid, So., MF; Saige Williams, Jr., D.
Campo Verde: Shannon Costello, Jr., D; Marissa Dunigan, Jr., MF; Victoria Dunigan, So., MF; Meg McDowell.
Chandler: Kassie Armendariz, Jr., D.
Chaparral: Katie Clemmons, So., D.
Corona del Sol: Kelsey Cartwright, So., D; Stephanie Petre, So., MF.
Desert Mountain: Olivia Gran, So., MF; Anya Koren, Sr., F.
Desert Vista: Rachel Ressler, So., F; Jessica Schafer, Sr., MF; KK Tupponce, Sr., F; Julia Waterhouse, Sr., MF; Kelly Watson, So., MF.
Fountain Hills: Caroline Dallstream, Sr., MF; Audrey Groux, Jr., MF; Haley Rippy, Jr., D; Meaghan Roman, Jr., D.
Gilbert: Allie Budge, Sr., D; Zoe Johnson, Sr., MF; Nicole Reese, Sr., D.
Hamilton: Megan Harder, Sr., D; Taylor Korytko, Sr., MF; Lindy Snyder, So., MF; Brynn Thomas, Jr., MF.
Highland: Bethany Hightower, Sr., D; Brena Jarvis, So., MF; Sami Marcolina, Sr., MF; Caroline Stosz, So., D.
Higley: Kelsey Ivers, Sr., MF.
Horizon: Kyndra Hargens, So., D; Nicole Krueger, Sr., MF; Brianna Robinson, Jr., GK; Ashley Stein, Jr., MF;
Horizon Honors: Monika Kawski, Sr., MF; Courtney Nelson, Sr., D; Jessica Pasbrig, Sr., D.
Marcos de Niza: Cheyenne Walker, Sr., MF.
McClintock: Jordan Arvayo, Sr., MF.
Mesquite: Amber Hayes, Jr., MF; Hailey St. Clair, Jr., MF; Dani Schulz, Jr., GK; Aya Shoura, Sr., F.
Mountain Pointe: Ellie St. Aubin, Sr., D; Alyson Coker, Jr., D; Cera Hassinan, So., MF; Kiley Kipper, So., F; Kaitlin Maiefski, Jr., MF; Katelin Warren, So., D.
Mountain View: Sheridan Myers, Sr., GK; Megan Rollins, Jr., MF.
Notre Dame: Kait Eichorst, Jr., D; Taylor Mogel, Sr., GK; Cadi Naquin, Jr., MF; Lucy O’Leary, So., D; Madison Reisdorf, So., F.
Perry: Samantha Demarco, Sr., MF; Shelby Stevenson, Jr., MF.
Pinnacle: Cassie Beckwith, Jr., F; Lauren Doud, Jr., MF; Jenny Richards, Sr., D.
Queen Creek: Joy Hinman, Sr., MF.
Red Mountain: Tia Cummins, So., D; Jess Garner, Jr., GK; Alyssa Guana, Jr., F; Noel Munoz, Jr., D; Stephanie Scarcello, So., D.
San Tan Foothills: Hannah Catadli, Jr.; Luz Duarte, Sr.;
Seton Catholic: Monica Lopez, Jr., D; Brenna McLean, So., F.
Skyline: Jacquie Brown, Jr., D; Elise Griego, Sr., D; Sophie Hjelte, Sr. MF.
Tempe Prep: Kaitlyn Woltz, Jr., MF.
Valley Christian: Jamie Gabb, Sr.; Kelsey Reade, So.
Westwood: Sarah Hanson, Sr., D.
Xavier: Michaela Dooley, So., F; Katherine Kelly, Jr., MF; Sam O’Connor, So., MF.
Memorable Moments from the 2010-2011 season
Hamilton over the hump: Even with five starters returning and a slew of top-notch talent in 5A Division I, Jason Thompson knew his Huskies team would be good. Turns out they were a bit better than that. The Huskies clawed more often than they cruised, but it’s a moot point following an undefeated season (25-0-1) that included the Dobson Mustang Classic and Diablo tournament championships. The Huskies’ stellar defense and goaltending held off Desert Vista, Mountain Pointe and Mesquite, then held off another fury in the form of two-time defending champion Xavier in the state championship match to give Hamilton its first girls soccer title in school history.
Pinnacle’s pioneers: Amazingly, Hamilton wasn’t the only school to go undefeated. Pinnacle (5A-II) and Hamilton would have been a sight to see. Alas, it never happened, but the Pioneers’ offense was as explosive as its defense was suffocating. The result was the first undefeated season (21-0) in 5A-II history. Beau Bremer, Maddie Kmetko, Lauren Doud and 39-goal-scoring freshman Jorian Boucom (who’s on the U.S. youth national team) were the core of a group of girls that often made it look too easy. For about two hours (until Hamilton won its state championship) the Pioneers were the first undefeated team in Class 5A since 1996.
Tournament changes create controversy: Citing a need to reduce finances and manpower, plus a desire to create a more “tournament-style” atmosphere to help sagging attendance in early rounds, all state tournament matches were held at neutral site locations such as Red Mountain Park and Reach 11 Sports Complex. While some enjoyed being able to watch multiple games at the same time, others were vociferous in their dislike of losing home-field advantage for the first and second rounds, rendering power points virtually meaningless and not saving schools themselves any travel costs. A late snafu resulted in Reach 11 admission being free while Red Mountain Park visitors were charged to enter, and schools such as Perry were bothered that their “neutral” matches in Yuma and Tucson were held less than 10 miles from their opponents’ school.