There was plenty of excitement surrounding Southeastern Pennsylvania girls' soccer this fall.
For the second consecutive season, Bayard Rustin shattered a heavily favored opponent's district-championship dreams. Notre Dame lost its label as an Inter-Ac League doormat. And PIAA Class AAA state champion Conestoga finished the season ranked 21st nationally in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Adidas ranking.
Here are some of the highs and lows of the season:
Team of the year
. In addition to winning its first state championship, Conestoga (23-2-1) was recognized as the area's top team, regardless of league or classification.
The Pioneers' two setbacks came to ranked teams: Downingtown West (by a 1-0 score) and Strath Haven (1-0 in double overtime).
Conestoga went on to finish the season with 18 consecutive wins. The Pioneers outscored this season's opponents, 96-7.
Coach of the year.
In just his second season, Notre Dame's Stassi Theodoropoulos has converted a losing program into a contender.
Under his leadership, the Irish (16-2-2) posted their first winning season since 1991. Notre Dame's only losses were to Germantown Academy, The Inquirer's fourth-ranked team in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
In addition to having a wealth of coaching knowledge, the former professional coach in his native Greece brought unity to the squad.
No player was bigger than the team. And the team was an extended family on and off the field.
Performance of the year.
Villa Joseph Marie left outside defensive back Alysha Mallon was the difference in the 1-0 nonleague victory over national power St. John's College High of Washington.
Standing unmarked seven yards outs, the Jems' junior scored the game-winner in the 47th minute.
St. John's came into the game as the nation's top girls' soccer team, according to StudentSportsSoccer.com.
Mallon also spearheaded a back line that made things extremely difficult for Cadets senior all-American forward Tiffany McCarty. A member of the U.S. under-17 girls' national team, McCarthy had just two legitimate shot attempts.
Upset of the year.
It turns out last season's District 1 Class AA championship victory over Villa Joseph Marie wasn't a fluke. Bayard Rustin's second-year program followed that up by toppling defending state champion Downingtown West in the District 1 Class AAA playoffs. The Golden Knights, seeded 16th in the 19-team tournament, knocked off the top-seeded Whippets, 1-0, in the second-round matchup.