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Williamsport’s Penman named Girls Soccer Player of the Year

Throughout Williamsport’s PIAA Class AAAA opener against North Penn, Katie Penman was often seen in the scoring third surrounded by three North Penn defenders. They constantly monitored every move Penman was making. If she started to jog one way or another, they swarmed all over her.

That was far from new for Penman. That’s the type of presence she saw all year long. Whether it be a regular season game, district playoffs or a state tournament game, teams knew they had to focus on and shut down Penman.

While North Penn did that night, a lot of teams can’t say they were able to do the same.

Penman was a force all year for the Millionaires and helped Williamsport get back to the state tournament. Her solid junior season earned her the Sun-Gazette’s Girls Soccer Player of the Year honor.

Penman is the first Williamsport player to earn the honor since the award was given out consistently in 2011 for both boys and girls soccer. Others considered for Player of the Year were South Williamsport’s Haley Neidig, Lewisburg’s Chloe Michaels and Sullivan County’s Bethany Beinlich.

“It’s really rewarding. I wasn’t expecting it, I thought a senior was going to get picked, so just knowing that out of all the players in the area that I’m Player of the Year? It’s really an honor,” Penman said.

The Williamsport junior became a 50-goal scorer this year, set the program’s all-time goal scoring record, set the school’s single-season scoring record (25 goals) and became one of just two players in program history to score 20 or more goals in a single season.

Add on top of that earning the program’s second all-state selection, joining Caitlyn Slattery in 2006.

“When I first made all-state, it was really unreal. It was a bunch of emotions,” Penman said. “At the beginning of the season, I set a bunch of goals and I wanted to break the (school) record and make all-state and I realized I met all of those goals. It’s really exciting when you work hard that it pays off.”

Penman was easily one of the area’s fastest players. Teams constantly had to focus on her and not allow her to take a through ball past the last line of defenders because more often than not, she would bury a shot for a goal.

Penman accounted for 28 of the team’s 49 goals this year and on the remaining goals she didn’t score, she helped teammates like Talia Lewis, Kailee Helmrich and others score just by being on the field and drawing defenders. Her speed was a weapon and if she didn’t have the ball, she still opened up the offense.

“It just made me work harder. Most of the time teams will do that and it will open up space for other players like Kailee because the defense will be on me. It was frustrating at first, but then you realize how to play around them,” Penman said. “It opened up a lot of passes, so we used it as a passing strategy because I would be heavily marked and they’d have two or three players on me. It’s easier for other players outside to get a chance.”

The junior received PHAC Division 1 first-team honors at forward as well this year.

Penman scored two or more goals in seven games, including the District 2-4 Class AAAA playoff opener against Hazleton and had four hat tricks. Against Delaware Valley in the championship, Penman was held scoreless, but she helped open the offense late when Helmrich scored the game winner in the final seconds.

“The fact I was able to score 25 this season is something you can see on paper that I get better every year,” Penman said. “It’s really exciting to see how I’ll do next year and develop as a soccer player.”

Montoursville midfielder Bella Masias summed up Penman perfectly in a game earlier this year: “Once she’s gone, she’s gone.”

For most teams Williamsport played, they learned that pretty quickly.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Scott McNeill, Williamsport

(Others considered: Alecia Gold, Hughesville; Marc Lovecchio, South Williamsport; Terry Gerlinski, Lewisburg)

Scott McNeill has built Williamsport’s program into a consistent title contender each year in District 2-4 and this year, McNeill did something that no one in Williamsport girls soccer had ever done: coach a team to four consecutive district titles.

Under McNeill, the Millionaires defeated Delaware Valley, 1-0, in the closing seconds of the District 2-4 Class AAAA championship game to record the program’s fourth consecutive district title.

The Millionaires went 13-5-3 overall, falling in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament, and were 7-2-3 within the Heartland Division I.

FIRST TEAM ALL-STARS

FIRST TEAM

HALEY NEIDIG, SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, FORWARD

Neidig put up an impressive season as a senior and was runner-up for Player of the Year honors. She led the team with 34 goals and added 11 assists to account for 45 goals, or 63% of the Mounties’ offense. Neidig scored at least three goals in eight games this year, including a season-high five against Hughesville early in the season. She constantly drew double coverage from most teams. Neidig averaged 1.8 goals per game and joined Kaitlyn Bower and Christa Matlack as the only South Williamsport players to ever score 30 or more goals in a single season. Neidig was South’s only first team all-star selection for PHAC Division III.

BETHANY BEINLICH, SULLIVAN COUNTY, FORWARD

Beinlich was another area player who used her speed to her advantage and made opponents pay. The junior became a 50-goal scorer during the regular season — just the fourth in program history — and climbed up to third. Beinlich had 23 goals and an area-high 18 assists for Sullivan County and constantly made things hard for opposing defenses. She was a Mid-Penn all-star this year. Beinlich was a Player of the Year nominee too. The Griffins scored 67 goals this year and Beinlich was part of 41 of them as she averaged 1.5 goals per game and 1.2 assists per game.

ALEAHA BIGELOW, MUNCY, FORWARD

Bigelow was a huge reason Muncy had offensive success this year. She ended as Muncy’s all-time goal scorer, surpassing Carley DeVore’s record of 69 goals by scoring a team-high 18 goals to end with 76. Bigelow was also the only player on Muncy with more than 10 goals. But while Bigelow constantly had the ability to score and use her speed, her presence on the field was a weapon in and of itself. Muncy coach Jason Gresh noted how Bigelow being on the field was huge because it either allowed her to score or, if teams man-marked or even double covered her, it allowed her teammates to find space and create scoring chances. Bigelow earned Mid-Penn honors this season.

MORGAN HOPKINS, HUGHESVILLE, FORWARD

Hopkins was a weapon for Hughesville and was scoring goals almost at will it seemed at times. Hopkins ended this season with 19 goals — almost half of Hughesville’s total — and five assists and helped the Spartans earn their first 10-win season since 2013 and first playoff appearance since 2015. Hopkins was a dangerous player up top and constantly was finding opportunities to score and chances against defenses. She was the only Spartan player to record more than five goals and helped the offense flourish. Hopkins was a first-team PHAC Division III all-star selection at forward as well.

KAILEE HELMRICH, WILLIAMSPORT, MIDFIELD

Helmrich played strictly at forward this year, but was a midfielder the year prior. In 2019, Helmrich earned honors as a PHAC Division I first-team all-star at forward and was one of four Millionaires to earn first-team honors. Helmrich was a solid weapon up top and often got tons of chances to score thanks to teams double or triple teamming speedster Katie Penman. Helmrich ended with 13 goals — second to only Penman’s 25 — and added a team-high six assists.

CHLOE BURKE, SULLIVAN COUNTY, MIDFIELD

If Bethany Beinlich wasn’t scoring, there was a very solid chance Burke was. The sophomore is closing in on 50 career goals and ended this season with an impressive 28 goals and seven assists. Burke did a solid job as well for the Griffins in controlling the midfield and helping set the tone for the team and created chances for not only herself, but teammates. Burke saw the field very well and was one of the Griffins’ best overall players. She was a Mid-Penn all-star selection.

SOPHIE KILBRIDE, LEWISBURG, MIDFIELD

Kilbride emerged as a huge weapon as a freshman. Teammate Chloe Michaels noted earlier in the year how huge it was to get Kilbride on the team and how she created a spark for the team offensively. Kilbride ended the year with 11 goals and 10 assists, and was a constant threat every game Lewisburg played. Lewisburg had a potent offense this year, and Kilbride was a big reason why. Kilbride wasn’t afraid to take shots either and was named a PHAC Division II second-team all-star selection at forward.

ELLA REISH, LEWISBURG, MIDFIELD

Reish was a huge scoring threat for Lewisburg and was a big reason the Green Dragons made it back to the state tournament. The junior Lewisburg midfielder had a team-high 17 goals — the only player on the team with more than 12 — and added five assists to account for a team-high 39 points. She also led the team in shots on goal (54) and shots on goal per game (2.5). Reish had two game-winning goals for Lewisburg and was a tough player for defenses to attempt to slow down. With Sophie Kilbride lined up next to her, it created a great 1-2 offensive punch. Reish was a PHAC Division II first-team selection.

ABIGAIL BERTHOLD, WILLIAMSPORT, DEFENDER

Berthold helped Williamsport’s defense play excellent. The Millionaires allowed just six shots per game and posted five shutouts. A huge part of that can be given to Berthold anchoring the back line. In the District 2-4 Class AAAA semifinals, Berthold constantly made things difficult for Hazleton and helped the Millionaires not allow a single shot in the 2-0 win. She was just as good defensively in the championship game. That’s how she played all year for the Millionaires. Berthold was a PHAC Division I first-team all-star selection at defender.

CHLOE MICHAELS, LEWISBURG, DEFENDER

Lewisburg was one of the best defenses this year, much like the 2018 team was, and Michaels was one of the reasons why. A Player of the Year nominee, Michaels helped anchor a back line at Lewisburg that allowed less than seven shots against per game. And if Michaels’ prowess as a defender wasn’t enough, consider the fact that she was a huge weapon for Lewisburg in another way. Anytime the Green Dragons had a free kick, it was Michaels who took it and it was due to the fact she could be dangerous from anywhere. Twenty yards out, 35, midfield? It didn’t matter because Michaels could easily send it in for a goal, or right at the feet — or head — of a teammate to put it in. Lewisburg had 10 shutouts and Michaels helped contribute to that. She was named PHAC Division II first-team defender.

ELENA MALONE, LEWISBURG, DEFENDER

Malone was just as tough of a defender as Michaels was and was an enormous reason that the Green Dragons averaged just 1.1 goals per game and shut out 10 opponents. Malone received PHAC Division I second-team honors as a defender. Of Lewisburg’s backline, three received league all-star nods, showing just how much talent Lewisburg had from a defensive perspective.

HANNAH ALBERT, MONTOURSVILLE, DEFENDER

The Warriors went 9-6-4 and yielded just 16 goals against all year. Albert was a big reason why. The junior Montoursville defender earned PHAC Division I first-team honors this year and joined teammate Bella Masias as the only Montoursville players to receive first-team honors. The Warriors allowed less than a goal per game against and Albert made things tough for opposing forwards and midfielders to fire shots. She also added a goal for the Warriors.

KYLEE BROUSE, WARRIOR RUN, GOALIE

Brouse was a first-team PHAC Division II all-star selection at goalie and became the first Warrior Run player in history to earn all-state honors at goalie. Brouse had eight shutouts this year with the Defenders, which got back to the postseason after a bit of a down year in 2018. She also had 137 saves and her eight shutouts were second in the area, behind only Lewisburg’s Lauren Gross (10). Warrior Run had a solid defense this season, but Brouse was a wall in goal if teams managed to get shots off against the Defenders.

SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS

• Lily Saul, Montoursville, F

• Leah Bergey, Milton, F

• Ashlynn Fowler, Muncy, F

• Jena Boyce, Wellsboro, F

• Bella Masias, Montoursville, M

• Cierra Getz, Hughesville, M

• Nita Imeri, Montgomery, M

• Grace Rosevear, Lewisburg, M

• Chelsea Stanton, Lewisburg, D

• Angelina Morrone, Williamsport, D

• Anna Burdett, Loyalsock, D

• Amber Axtman, Warrior Run, D

• Lila Vogelsong, Williamsport, GK

Honorable mention

(IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)

Lilly Abadi, Wellsboro, GK; Kenna Ammar-Khodja, Hughesville; Avery Baker, Central Mountain; Kassidy Beinlich, Sullivan County, M/GK; Janae Bergey, Milton, D; Avery Bigelow, Muncy, D; Kylie Bohart, Warrior Run; Grace Boos, Loyalsock; Paige Bowman, Warrior Run, F; Payton Bragalone, Milton; Abigail Brinker, Central Mountain; Aubrey Chappell, Milton; Mackenzie Cohick, Montoursville; Jade Cordrey, Hughesville, M; Madison Courter, Central Mountain, D; Matayah Deitrick, Williamsport, D; Elisa DiNicola, Loyalsock, F; Abi Duck, Montgomery, GK; Liz Fishel, Jersey Shore, GK; Angel Fitzgerald, Sullivan County, M/D; Taylor Fleming, Jersey Shore, F; Kate Fortin, Hughesville, D; Claudia Green, South Williamsport, D; Kiersten Green, Williamson, M; Gracie Grieco, Hughesville, D; Lauren Gross, Lewisburg, GK; Leah Grow, Warrior Run, D; Mari Houseknecht, Loyalsock, GK; Talia Lewis, Williamsport, M/F; Mikayla Long, Lewisburg, M/D; Madison Maihle, Jersey Shore, D; Elizabeth Manning, South Williamsport, F; Hannah Michael, Warrior Run, D; Amilee Miller, South Williamsport, M; Claire Miller, Williamson, F; Piper Minier, South Williamsport, F; Kiersten Mitstifer, N.P.-Mansfield, F/M; Hannah Myers, Williamsport, M; Sarah Pysher, Hughesville; Aleigha Reippel, South Williamsport; Maddy Ross, Warrior Run, M; Kathryn Schluter, Loyalsock; Laila Shams, South Williamsport, GK; Maggie Sheets, Warrior Run, D; Lauren Singer, Wellsboro, D; Gracie Snyder, North Penn-Mansfield, D; Kamryn Snyder, Milton, GK; Taylor Snyder, Milton, M; Ellie Springman, Sullivan County, D; Lindsey Trapani, Warrior Run, D; Gillian Way, Hughesville, D; Leah Walter, Milton, M; Kerigan Wettlaufer, Sullivan County, M/F; Madison Young, Hughesville, GK; Avery Zales, Montoursville, GK.

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