Sitting on the edge of unofficial history, Hurricane forward Bailey Fisher and the Redskins stalled, being shut out in three straight contests.
But Fisher, who has impressed since her arrival with the Redskins a year ago, proved that she can handle adversity.
The sophomore racked up 66 goals, breaking what is believed to be the girls soccer single-season state record of 59 set by Lauren Hill of PikeView in 2012. In leading the Redskins back to the Class AAA state tournament a year after the program won its first state crown, Fisher has been tabbed as the Gazette-Mail’s Kanawha Valley Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
“At the beginning of the season and during summer training our goal was to have the best defense and to win a state championship again,” Fisher said. “We’ve just been working hard in practices and trying to be our best.”
Fisher is joined by Coach of the Year Ali Sadeghian of George Washington and Freshman of the Year Katie Farley of Poca as Gazette-Mail girls soccer award winners.
Sadeghian guided GW back to the Class AAA state tournament field with a 15-5-2 record despite losing seven seniors from a state-tournament team a year ago.
Farley, a driving force behind upstart Poca’s run to a 13-6-4 record and an appearance in the Class AA-A Region 4 Section 1 title match, scored 48 goals to finish second in the Kanawha Valley behind Fisher. Farley also earned a first-team All-Kanawha Valley selection at forward.
For most of the season, Fisher’s pursuit of the record seemed like a foregone conclusion as she piled up goals at breakneck speed. But then, starting with a Mountain State Athletic Conference title game against George Washington, the Redskins were held scoreless in three straight contests (GW, Morgantown, Charleston Catholic).
Sitting just two goals away from tying the record, Fisher was dealt a lesson in patience and her team a lesson in complacency. But starting with a 7-0 win over Spring Valley in a sectional opener, the Redskins have ripped off shutout wins over the Timberwolves, Cabell Midland and Parkersburg South in succession.
Fisher admitted finally getting over the hump loosened up herself and the team to move forward through the playoffs.
“I was really excited when I broke [the goals record] but I was kind of relieved too,” Fisher said. “But I was relieved too that we could just focus on going to states and winning. It was a little bit of pressure and it was just good to get it off and focus on states.”
Hurricane coach Shelly Young credited Fisher’s work in the offseason as well as her growing understanding of the game in terms of when to shoot and when to feed teammates.
“I think one of the things that doesn’t show up as much in the stats is that she has started to improve, especially in the playoffs, in terms of playing in the midfield and being a distributor and having the ball on her foot,” Young said. “Being that big, composed player in the center of the field creating plays. I’ve seen it and I want her to continue to develop that aspect of her game — developing her ability to be a playmaker as well as a finisher — and that has developed a lot from last season to this season.”
Fisher is hardly the lone Redskin on the All-Kanawha Valley first team, being joined by Redskins junior goalie Olivia Bird (19 shutouts) and senior defender Abby Fowler.
Charleston Catholic also had three players on the first team, landing senior keeper Katie Nester (17 shutouts), junior Audrey Miller and junior midfielder Lindsay Carr (20 goals, 12 assists).
George Washington and Winfield, the Valley’s other two state-tournament teams, each put two players on the first team.
Generals senior Julianne Pauley earned a nod at forward with 24 goals and junior midfielder and former Kanawha Valley Rookie of the Year Ava Hall returned to the first team with 16 goals and 17 assists.
GW’s Kalissa Lacy, an All-State first-team basketball player a year ago, earned an All-Kanawha Valley first-team soccer spot for the first time as the junior forward led the Valley with 26 assists to go with 20 goals. She is joined by fellow patriot Reagan Bromiley, a sophomore midfielder.
Rounding out the first team are Sissonville sophomores Anna Gregor (26 goals, 21 assists) and Amelia Compston (18 goals, 15 assists) and Herbert Hoover senior defender Allison Dunbar.