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Eight girls soccer players from the Johnstonian News readership area were named to the 2019 Neuse River Futbol Alliance All-County Team.
From Corinth Holders, recent graduates consisting of forward Erin Barefoot, midfielder Lindy Morgan, defender Kaelin Sanderford and rising senior goalie Alyssa Walawender were honored as top performers. Forward Sarah Gaskin and midfielder Dargan Harris represented the Neuse Charter selections, while Princeton forward Veronica Blackman and North Johnston defender Melanie Barbee were also honored for stout play on the pitch.
“Girls soccer in Johnston County continues to get better each year at every level,” NRFA selection committee chair Keith Jenkins said in a prepared release. “Every program is setting records for wins, conference championship and playoff wins. The job of the committee gets tougher every year as these tremendous student-athletes continue to perform at a high level on the pitch.”
The players from Johnstonian News-area schools represented just over half of the 15 selections made by a committee of media members and coaches assembled to vote on top players nominated at county schools.
Clayton midfielder Leah Rodgers took home top honors as the 2019 NRFA High School Miss Soccer after scoring a school-record 33 goals her senior year. Per the NFRA press release, the Miss Soccer award is given to the player who “is deemed to be the best player that had the most impact on her team.” With 27 assists in her final season, Rodgers set a new program record with 80 assists over four years and was a huge part of her team’s success in 2019.
Rodgers, who led the Comets to the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs, graduated in June and will continue her soccer career at Campbell University this fall. In recognition of being the best area player, she received a trophy and a $200 scholarship.
Rodgers was joined on the team by Clayton teammates forward Maggie Gaskins, defender Carson Paschal, defender Riley Mann and goalie Kasey Wilkins. To round out the selections, Cleveland midfielder Tina El-Amoor was also honored.
The committee assembled to pick the top players in Johnston County were tasked with choosing four defenders, four midfielders, five forwards and two goalkeepers. The panel included media members and local coaches.
Players from public, private and home school teams around the area were all eligible to be nominated for the award.
Corinth Holders’ Faith Thompson, Smithfield-Selma’s Vanesa Sanchez-Torres and Cristina Martinez, North Johnston’s Maira Teurel, Princeton’s Rachel Creech, Cleveland’s Cara Davis and West Johnston’s Elena Overman were named honorable mention.