Loyalsock’s Jessell earns Girls Player of the Year

Loyalsock's Rhiallie Jessell plays during a game against Williamsport this year. (SUN-GAZETTE FILE PHOTO)

Rhiallie Jessell never needed to put up a 20-goal performance. She didn’t have to score in every game for the Lancers to be a competitive, tough team.

She simply had to play her game the best she could and be on the field. Put Jessell in the starting lineup and most of the time, she was the best player on the field no matter who Loyalsock was playing.

And more times than not, if you ask an opposing coach if they wanted to neutralize and contain Jessell during a game, the answer was yes. That’s the type of player Jessell was for Loyalsock, a constant threat anytime she was playing.

And being that type of an X factor helped Jessell earn the 2017 Williamsport Sun-Gazette Girls Soccer Player of the Year award.

Other area players considered included Montoursville’s Kyleigh Balint, Sullivan County’s Macy McCarthy and South Williamsport’s Lela Warner. Jessell also won Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2015.

Jessell had 10 goals this past year and led Loyalsock with a team-high seven assists, but Jessell was an extremely dangerous player and will be going to Division-1 Saint Francis next fall to play soccer. And her ability to control the midfield was what helped the Lancers succeed.

“We played a majority of the season with three forwards and only three midfielders, and the reason we could do that was because of Rhiallie. She does the work of two players. She is great defensively and she does an outstanding job helping us transition from the back to front,” Loyalsock coach Ben Comfort said. “She is more than capable of scoring goals, as she had 64 in her career with 20 of those being game winners, but Rhiallie is much more valuable than that.

“She had 45 career assists and that’s not an easy amount to come by,” Comfort said. “Playing one of the toughest schedules in the state year after year, being double and triple teamed, and just drawing attention from opponents all game long, her numbers are remarkable. With that being said though, the importance of controlling the field and game management are extremely more important than goal scoring. That was Rhiallie’s strength and that’s been a huge key to our success.”

Being that tough of a player with 20 career game-winners under her belt, it’s no surprise that every game, teams came in marking Jessell with multiple players. And even constantly being marked, Jessell often still found ways around players to get an open look or create chances for her teammates to score.

“I did embrace it (getting marked) and I went into every game pretty much knowing I was going to be man marked by a few girls most of the time,” Jessell said. “Although I got frustrated over that, I tried to not let that deter from my play and I made the most out of the situations I was put in.”

Jessell came up clutch numerous times when she needed to, such as in the District 4 Class AA quarterfinals against Montoursville to keep the Lancers season alive for one more game.

Three minutes to go, down by a goal with the season on the line? Jessell simply stepped up and drilled her free kick right underneath the crossbar to force overtime and eventually a shootout.

If you gave Jessell an opening, odds are she was going to convert.

Jessell was named a Heartland Coaches-Division 3 first-team all-star selection at midfield this year.

“I felt as if I was in the best shape of my life this year. I worked very hard over these past years and summers to make my high school career memorable. To me, soccer is completely beyond just scoring goals and making unbelievable assists,” Jessell said. “As long as my team was doing their jobs along with myself, goals would come and in my opinion it didn’t matter who the one was that was putting the ball in the back of the net, just as long as it got there eventually.”

And the Loyalsock senior midfielder had extremely high soccer IQ when she was on the field, knowing the game well and using it to her advantage every game.

“Rhiallie’s soccer IQ is off the charts. I’ve coached and/or seen very few players at the high-school level that have such a high understanding of the game like Rhiallie’s. You can’t teach some of the things Rhiallie knows,” Comfort said. “You either get it or you don’t and Rhiallie was blessed with a great knowledge and understanding of soccer.

“Having Rhiallie on the field has made my job easier because she’s sometimes a step or two ahead of what is going on on the field and with what needed to be said or done. Rhiallie helped to elevate the play of her teammates and she did that with humility and unselfishness. … She just wanted to play great soccer, see her team and teammates succeed, and win games.”

And that’s precisely what Jessell did.



KYLEIGH BALINT, MONTOURSVILLE, F — Allow Balint to get a throughball and there’s a very solid chance she’s going to get a great look and bury it for a goal. That’s how Balint was offensively for the Warriors. Balint led Montoursville this past year with 15 goals scored and was a constant offensive threat against defenses if she got an open look. She also led Montoursville in assists with eight. Balint was named first-team Heartland Coaches Division-II All-Star selection at forward and was also named as an all-state selection.

MACY MCCARTHY, SULLIVAN COUNTY, F — McCarthy had a historic season with the Griffins, scoring an impressive 43 goals, including both in a first-round 2-1 playoff win over Line Mountain and a hat trick in her final game, a 7-3 loss to East Juniata in the district semifinals. She eclipsed the 100-goal mark late in the year and became the program’s first 100-goal scorer on the girls side. McCarthy was tough to contain for opposing defenses and helped open up Sullivan County’s offense and was named all-state and a Mid-Penn first-team all-star choice at midfield.

LELA WARNER, SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, F — After missing almost all of her sophomore season with a foot injury, Warner came back as a junior and redeemed herself. Warner led South Williamsport in goals this past year. In the postseason, Warner scored twice and had an assist in a 5-0 win over Sayre in a District 4 Class A play-in game and scored the teams’ only goal in a 5-1 quarterfinal loss to East Juniata. Warner was a second-team Heartland Coaches Division-3 pick at forward and led the Mounties in goals scored with 18 goals and had five assists.

SAMMY REEDER, WILLIAMSPORT, M — Reeder played excellent all season with Williamsport and was one of the fastest players on the field most of the times. Reeder had 16 goals for the Millionaires, tied for the most on the team with Katie Penman, and had six assists. Reeder was part of a dangerous Williamsport offense that was capable of scoring seemingly at will and she was named to the Heartland Coaches all-star team as a first-team selection at forward.

ANNA SCHULT, MONTOURSVILLE, M — If Kyleigh Balint wasn’t scoring, there was a solid chance Anna Schult was. Schult was solid in midfield with Montoursville throughout the year, and scored seven goals while dishing out five assists – both second-most for Montoursville. Schult was named a Heartland Coaches Division-2 first-team all-star at midfield.

BELLA GREEN, SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, M — Green played various positions the last two years, from forward to even defense this past year. Green was named a Heartland Coaches Division-3 second-team midfield all-star this year and played solid for the Mounties. Green had three goals and led South Williamsport with a team-high seven assists. She played well from a defensive standpoint all year in trying to limit other team’s chances at scoring.

CHLOE MICHAELS, LEWISBURG, D — Don’t use the Green Dragons’ overall record as an indicator for Michaels. Instead look at her play on the field. Michaels was easily one of the district’s top defenders and was able to use her speed to her advantage and play well physically against opposing offensive players and often frustrate other forwards. Michaels made it tough for players to get open looks and chances to score on Lewisburg throughout the year.

SARAH VAN FLEET, LOYALSOCK, D — Van Fleet may not have gotten a ton of recognition in box scores throughout the year, but don’t think her play wasn’t a key player. Van Fleet was a Heartland Coaches Division-3 first-team selection at defense and was a huge reason Loyalsock’s defense played as well as it did this year. The Lancers only allowed 15 goals and averaged roughly five shots against all season, and Van Fleet was a tough player on the backline.

LAUREN O’MALLEY, MONTOURSVILLE, D — While teammate Kyleigh Balint got the spotlight up top, O’Malley got it in the backline. O’Malley played excellent as a defender all year for Montoursville and helped the Warriors’ defense play well in only allowing 19 goals all year long and only allowing multiple goals in five games. O’Malley is a speedy player and routinely could be seen closing in on anyone who tried to get deep into Montoursville’s territory to score. O’Malley was a first-team Heartland Coaches Division-2 all-star selection at defender.

EMMA BURROWS, WARRIOR RUN, D — You could easily consider Burrows the heart and soul of Warrior Run’s defense. Burrows makes life tough for opposing teams, and all season long you could see her hustle on the field. Burrows was a Heartland Coaches Division-3 first-team midfielder all-star. The Defenders are known for playing stingy defense, and Burrows embodies exactly what that type of play is. In the postseason, Burrows helped Warrior Run shut down Muncy and Southern Columbia in consecutive games, and limit Bloomsburg’s opportunities in the semifinals.

GRACE SCHRECKENGAST, LOYALSOCK, GK — Schreckengast showcased how good of a goalie she was in the District 4 Class AA semifinal loss to Midd-West. Midd-West held an 11-1 shot advantage in the first half, and Schreckengast made numerous excellent saves, diving stops and tips high to keep Midd-West from taking a lead. That’s the way she played all year long in leading the area girls for shutouts with 11 and ended with 40 for her career. Schreckengast was also a Heartland Coaches Division-3 second-team selection all-star at goalie.


F-Aleaha Bigelow, Muncy

F-Katie Penman, Williamsport

F-Juliana Cruz, Loyalsock

F-Morgan Hopkins, Hughesville

M-Kaylie Schans, Montoursville

M-Latricia Yocum, Warrior Run

M-Madison Bowman, Williamsport

D-Hailey Zurich, Loyalsock

D-Jane James, Warrior Run

D-Nina Schappell, Williamsport

D-Haley Neidig, South Williamsport

GK-Lila Vogelsong, Williamsport


(in alphabetical order)

Macy Akeley, Central Mountain; McKenna Amer, Sullivan County; Avery Baker, Central Mountain; Olivia Beaver, Milton; Sarah Beiler, Lewisburg; Bethany Beinlich, Sullivan County; Leah Bergey, Milton; Abigail Berthold, Williamsport; Bailey Bowen, Muncy; Madison Burke, Sullivan County; Nikki Cho, Lewisburg; Kailee Clymer, Wellsboro; Ashlynn Eichenlaub, Hughesville; Annalise Eiswerth, Jersey Shore; Anna Fisher, Jersey Shore; Ashlynn Fowler, Muncy; Jenna Gardner, Loyalsock; Cierra Getz, Hughesville; Juliana Girton, Lewisburg; Crystal Hamilton, Milton; Alivia Heivly, Muncy; Jaela House, South Williamsport; Alyssa Johnson, South Williamsport; Hannah Kauffman, Jersey Shore; Hannah Knecht, Loyalsock; Kaitlyn Kramer, Wellsboro; Stefanie Kramer, Sullivan County; Jayden Leighow, Hughesville; Madie Majcher, Warrior Run; Allyse Marchioni, Montoursville; Bella Masias, Montoursville; Addy Matz, Neumann; Sadie McCaleb, Central Mountain; Amelia McCloy, Central Mountain; Zoie McDermott, N.P.-Mansfield; St. John Neumann; Alaina McKee, N.P.-Mansfield; Shayna McNamee, Neumann; Charlotte Neylon, Loyalsock; Tatum Omlor, Lewisburg; Emma Poirier, Wellsboro; Lizzie Poirier, Wellsboro; Allison Reed, Lewisburg; Olivia Reish, Lewisburg; Makenna Snyder, Muncy; Sophia Springman, Sullivan County; Taylor Snyder, Milton; Abby Staman, Warrior Run; Sam Stopper, Loyalsock; Sloane Tressler, Central Mountain; Jessica Umpstead, Montgomery; Megan Weber, South Williamsport; Haley Whitford, Williamsport; Lexie Yerger, South Williamsport; Lauren Zangara, Williamsport; Megan Zimmerman, Warrior Run; Avery Zales, Montoursville; Hailey Zurich, Loyalsock