Observer All-Area soccer team

This was really, really hard.

I’m serious.

I spent three hours on a Saturday afternoon going through coaches’ nominations, archived newspaper stories and enough stats to make a sports nerd go cross-eyed.

At the end of the day, this is what I came up with:

2008 Fayetteville Observer Soccer All-Area Team

Player of the Year: Bennett Strickland, Cape Fear
Coach of the Year: Andrew McCarthy, Fayetteville Academy

First team
Bennett Strickland, Cape Fear, Forward – Led the county with 36 goals while adding eight assists in regular-season play. … A Two-Rivers All-Conference selection and 2008 TRC Player of the Year.

Jordan Beckham, Cape Fear, Midfield/Forward – Poured in 22 goals and added 18 assists in the regular season for the Colts. … A first-team all-conference selection in the Two Rivers 4A.

Robert Sandidge, Fayetteville Christian, Forward – Tallied 29 goals and 13 assists for the Warriors. Co-Player of the Year in the Cape Fear Independent Conference and a NCISAA All-State selection.

Alex Sevilla, Jack Britt, Midfield/Forward – Had 24 goals and seven assists for the Bucs in 2008. … A first-team Mid-Southeastern All-Conference choice and the 2008 MSE Player of the Year

Brenden Wilson, Pine Forest, Forward – Scored 16 goals and chipped in four assists for the Trojans. … A Two Rivers first-team all-league choice.

Daniel Vestal, Village Christian, Forward – Had 14 goals and 15 assists for the Knights in 2008. … A first-team NCISAA All-State pick and a first-team all CFIC choice.

Jackson Ferrell, Fayetteville Academy, Midfielder – Scored 25 goals and dished out 14 assists for the 2A State Champion Eagles. … A NCISAA All-State selection. … Will play for coach Doug Hess at Campbell University next season.

Daniel Dahnke, Fayetteville Christian, Midfielder – Had 19 goals and nine assists for the Warriors. … A first-team all-league choice. … Scored two goals in the school’s first-ever win against Fayetteville Academy.

Rocket Court, Terry Sanford, Midfielder – Scored 15 goals and added 18 assists for the Bulldogs. … A Two Rivers first-team all-conference selection.

Thomas Goulden, Pinecrest, Midfielder – Scored six goals and added nine assists while filling multiple roles for his side. … First team All-MSE and All-Region 6.

Eric Parziale, Pinecrest, Defender – Scored 10 goals and had eight assists for the Patriots. … Part of a back line that allowed 22 goals in 26 games. … An all-MSE choice, first-team Region 6 choice and is on track to be the school’s valedictorian.

Paul Beckman, Seventy-First, Sweeper – Scored a goal and had 13 assists while anchoring the Falcon defense. … A first-team choice.

Kacey Praschan, Terry Sanford, Defender – Anchored a defense that posted eight shutouts this season. … A first-team all-conference selection.

Sean Baker, Fayetteville Christian, Keeper – Posted 11 shutouts, had a 92 percent save percentage and a .65 goals against average. … First-team all-conference choice.

Second team

Matt Scott, Pinecrest, Keeper – First-team all-MSE and all-Region 6 pick. … Posted 13 shuouts and allowed 15 goals in 17 full matches.

James Morgan, Fayetteville Academy, Defender – An all-conference selection and an anchor at the back for a state championship team.

John Vallery, Pine Forest, Defender – Had three goals and two assists in the regular season for the Trojans. … A first-team all-league choice.

Kyle Burke, Jack Britt, Defender – First-team all MSE pick. … Second-team All-Region 6 player.

Williams Britt, Lumberton, Defender – Scored 11 goals to go with three assists while serving as the anchor for the Pirate defense. … A first-team all-conference choice.

Sean Kleffman, Fayetteville Christian, Defender – Had a goal and four assists from his center back position. … First-team all-CFIC pick.

Matt Carriker, Pinecrest, Midfield – Had 10 goals and four assists for the Patriots. … First-team all-MSE and all-Region 6 selection.

Chris Ryan, Pine Forest, Midfielder – Had eight goals and six assists. … A first-team all-Two Rivers pick.

Jack Ward, Fayetteville Academy, Forward – Scored 17 goals and added 10 assists for the Eagles. … Scored 11 of the team’s 12 goals in the postseason.

Sam Khasru, Terry Sanford, Forward – Tallied 17 goals and two assists for the Bulldogs. … First-team all-league pick.

Tyson Balaam, Village Christian, Forward – Scored 19 goals and added six assists. … A first-team all-league selection.

Danny Fisher, Douglas Byrd, scored 11 goals on the season, including five in a game aganist Hoke County. … A first-team all-MSE selection.

Walther Mejia, Hoke County, Forward – Runner-up in the Mid-Southeastern 4A Player of the year voting.

Robby Jones, South View, Forward – Scored nine goals and added two assists for the Tigers. … A first-team All-Two Rivers choice.

There was a good case to be made for Rocket Court, Jackson Ferrell, Jordan Beckham, Alex Sevilla or Robert Sandidge to be player of the year – and all of them received about the same number of mentions from coaches.

I broke the tie with goals and assists and gave it to Strickland. They’re all great players. I hardly think I could have gone way wrong with any of them.

The coach’s award was even harder. Sean Brennan did a great job at Terry Sanford in his first season, Matt Sadler led Fayetteville Christian to its first-ever win over Fayetteville Academy in the midst of a great season and Larry Martin led Pinecrest to another unbeaten season in the Mid-Southeastern 4A and a deep run in the State 4A playoffs.

But I kept coming back to Andrew McCarthy. After two straight empty trips to the state finals, a heavy dose of graduation losses and a poor run of form in midseason that included an overtime loss to FCS, the Eagles were in unfamiliar territory as something less than an odds-on favorite to win a state crown.

But a strong run in the postseason, keyed by Jack Ward (the toughest omission from the first team by coaches’ voting), led the academy to another state title.

I think coaching had a bit to do with all of that.

So, there it is. Got any thoughts? Post away…


8 Responses to “Observer All-Area soccer team”

  1. darron ward Says:

    Not sure why nobody has commented – maybe they are all in agreement !
    Quite interesting as to how you arrive at the “all star team” using coach input and stats – nothing like this in English soccer.
    Anyway – Im with you on the COY front.
    Maybe I am slightly biased as my son plays for Macca – but having used his stats over the last few years it seems to be a fair reflection.
    Once again nothing like this in English soccer.
    I like the way that you arrived at your decision – obviously a man of great integrity !!
    So Fulham way above the Toon at the moment – Its a long season ( thank god !! ) Gives us a chance to rise like a phoenix from the ashes !!!
    Have a good holiday American soccer pundits

  2. Randy Capps Says:

    I’d prefer to believe that my logic was so spot on, that no one dares challenge it.

    But since I got an e-mail or two to the contrary, I can just tell you that the dissenting opinions weren’t shared here.

  3. Nickelo Says:

    Do I read in the initial post that you incorporated coaches into the selection process? If so, is this the 1st year of coaches formally voting for player selection, how many coaches were involved and had those coaches seen all players for whom they were voting/ranking? I can attest (for whatever that matters) that when healthy, Jack Ward, was one of the best finishers on the pitch, right or left foot.

  4. Randy Capps Says:

    This is my first year handling it, so I don’t know how the team was selected in the past.

    I sent a letter and an e-mail to every coach in the area and got input from all of them except for E.E. Smith, Gray’s Creek, Hoke County, Richmond County and Northwood Temple. So we had a good mix of responses.

    Jack got plenty of votes, including mine. I had a couple of coaches mention his injuries, however, and that fact probably kept him off the first team.

    I don’t know how many public schools coaches watched any private school games and vice-versa, but I think the process on the whole was a fair one.

  5. Nickelo Says:

    I like the “O’s” hat. Is there some allegiance there. Having grown up in the “vicinity” I grew up attending and pulling for the beloved O’s when they had good management (ownership) back in the days of Brooks, Boog, The Blade, Paul Blair, Jim Palmer and on and on. Are you from the area?

  6. Randy Capps Says:

    I lived in Northern Virginia for a few years as a child – right around the time that sports allegiances form. So, as a result, I’m a Redskin and Oriole fan.

    Peter Angelos is an idiot. My only solace is that he’s getting old and surely won’t be able to run my favorite baseball team into the ground forever.

    Interestingly enough, the photo on top of this page was taken in New Jersey, the morning before the Orioles played the Yankees in the Bronx back in August.

    Now I loathe the Yankees. But I had to see a game in Yankee Stadium before it becomes a museum and parking for the newer version across the street. I have to say it was well worth it.

  7. Nickelo Says:

    Yankee Stadium is a classic–dump of a classic yet a classic as is/was Memorial Stadium. The other you should visit is Fenway–IMHO, the absolute best. Yes, Peter Angelos is just as high on my list as is the late (I think) Jim Irsay who moved my beloved BALTIMORE Colts from Md. in the middle of the night in a snowstorm!!!!!!!!

  8. Randy Capps Says:

    Fenway is on the wish list for the summer of 2009. Luckily, my wife is a good sport.

    You’re thinking about Robert Irsay, who died in 1997. He moved the team. Jim is his son, who took over the Colts when his father died.

    That was pretty slimy, with the Mayflower moving vans and all.

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