Mount Airy’s Jessica Miranda is headed to Raleigh this weekend to accept her 1A all-state soccer award from the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association.
The junior was one of five Lady Bears named to the Region 9 team recently, but the only one to make the all-state team.
East Surry also had five players make the Region 9 team, but none of the Lady Cardinals made the cut.
Mount Airy coach Will Hurley said he argued for the inclusion of East’s Mary Jo Lowe, but Bishop McGuinness, Raleigh Charter, Union Academy and Community School of Davidson all had two players honored, making it harder to get a local kid recognized.
In fact, Mount Airy was the only true public school on the list as Gray Stone Day, Lincoln Charter, Woods Charter and Franklin Academy rounded out the all-state team.
Bears’ Judy Madrigal, Kimberly Lachino, Ailia Halpern and Calle Fulton made the Region 9 team, and Hurley said he pushed hard for Judy to make the state team, too, but he couldn’t get the votes for a second player.
The Bears were 8-2-1 in nonconference play, but had to battle with Bishop McGuinness, East Surry and North Stokes in a tough Northwest Conference and went 6-4 in league play.
A big part of the team’s success was Jessi’s passion, said Hurley. The petite midfielder/forward stands only 5-foot-3 and generously claims 115 pounds, he said, but, “Nobody uses their body better than she does. She is just so tiny, but she stands her ground.”
What makes Miranda so effective?
“It’s her knowledge and aggressiveness,” said Hurley. “She knows how to use her body to get to the ball without committing a foul.”
Over 22 games played, Jessi had 10 assists and nine goals, including two game-winning scores, he said, thinking it might have been the games with North Stokes and East Wilkes.
She also made 200 steals, he said.
Some coaches argue that steals aren’t an official stat in soccer, Hurley explained, but he believes in charting every time a player takes the ball away from an opposing a player. Jessi did that about nine times a game.
And she actually caused more turnovers than that, he added. It’s like in basketball where pressuring the point guard makes the player throw a bad pass. Kimberly Lachino led the team in steals, but a few of those were because of Jessi’s pressure.
Hurley gave Miranda his player of the game award after a 2-0 win over East Wilkes. He said she never stopped playing hard and was a key reason the team won.
“She is the player who does all the little things before the goal is scored,” he said. She makes steals, handles the ball, and hits it ahead to the scorers.
She does a lot of little things that didn’t show up in the stats, he said.
Bishop is a very good team, he noted, but Mount Airy had stayed right with the Villains for a 0-0 tie for most of the first half.
Hurley took Miranda out for a breather and said Bishop scored five goals in the next three minutes.
Coincidence? He doesn’t think so. Jessi’s energy and hustle could inspire her teammates to play harder, too.
By the end of the season, Hurley said he didn’t need to make any halftime speeches, Jessi already knew what needed to be done and would address the team herself. He said he jokingly took off his glasses and handed them to her since she was taking his place.
In one of the two games with East Surry, Hurley said Miranda scared the daylights out of him by collapsing.
She hadn’t eaten a bite all day and didn’t want to come out for a break, he said. Her blood sugar dropped too low and she passed out.
Miranda is the first Lady Bear to make the all-state team and only the third for Mount Airy overall.
Last year, Mitchell Brown and Carlos Carrillo made it for the boys.
In 2A, a couple of players from Forbush’s state runner-up team made the list.
Senior keeper Jessica Funk and junior midfielder Madison York were the only area players named in 2A.
• Surry Central’s Kelsey Taylor made the Region 9 2A team. The Region 9 1A team was dominated by players from the Northwest Conference. Here is the full list.
Region 9 Team
Carter, Tyanna Soph. Forward Atkins
Teague, Barbara Jr. Sweeper Atkins
Molen, Kim Jr. Keeper
Rose, Caroline Sr. Mid-fielder/Defender
Saffer, Kally Sr. Mid-fielder/Defender
Valentine, Kienle Jr. Forward/Mid-fielder
Walsh, Mary Kate Fr. Forward/Mid-fielder
Walsh, Samantha Sr. Forward/Mid-fielder
Chavez, Lily Sr. Mid-fielder
Collins, Maggie Soph. Keeper
Custer, Katelynn Sr. Mid-fielder
Kish, Abby Sr. Defender
Lowe, Mary Jo Soph. Forward
Fulton, Calle’ Sr. Defender
Halpern, Ailia Jr. Keeper/Striker
Lachino, Kimberly Sr. Center-mid/Defender
Madrigal, Judy Jr. Mid-fielder/Striker
Miranda, Jessica Jr. Center-mid
Bollman, Carson Sr. Forward/Mid-fielder
Hill, Ally Sr. Keeper/Defender
Morefield, Kaiti Jr. Forward
Maske, Claire Soph. Forward/Mid-fielder
Najera, Isabel Fr. Mid-fielder/FB/F
Cook, Haley Soph. Forward