Inquirer Player of the Year / Midfield
Allyson Heavens, Garnet Valley
With Garnet Valley trailing by five and its coach ejected from the game, Heavens' clutch gene took over in the waning moments of the PIAA championship game vs. Strath Haven. Over a dizzying final 9 minutes, 43 seconds of regulation, the senior scored three goals and assisted on another. Her final tally, with 27 seconds left, tied the game at 9 after the Jags had trailed for more than 26 minutes. Teammate Halley Barnes scored the winner in overtime, but it was Heavens who orchestrated a comeback for the ages as Garnet Valley (24-3) repeated as state champ. For such performances, Heavens is The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania Player of the Year.
The swift-footed Heavens was dynamic at the high school level, hardly ever subbing out of games and playing the full 110 yards each time out. A true two-way player, she is projected as a defender in college (Penn State). Heavens totaled 66 goals and 53 assists and collected 57 ground balls this year. "She has finesse and skill, but a lot of that is just heart. That combination was deadly," Jaguars coach Kate Henwood said. In two state-championship appearances, Heavens scored eight goals. She amassed 130 goals and 93 assists the last two years while going full-tilt on defense. Garnet Valley likely won't see an all-around player of her caliber for some time.
Halley Barnes, Garnet Valley
The senior cemented her legacy as one of the best in Garnet Valley history by scoring the winning goal 23 seconds into overtime as the Jaguars won their second straight PIAA championship. The goal was Barnes' 106th of the year (to go with 30 assists), pushing her two-year total to 224. Headed to Rutgers, Barnes was certainly one of the better scorers in the state, if not the nation, but her timely nose for the net was uncanny: Garnet Valley played three overtime games this season, and Barnes scored the clincher in all of them.
Natalie Miller, Radnor
After a conservative start to the season, Miller, a lefthanded senior, locked in. By the time the Red Raiders (21-5) were streaking toward the District 1 title, Miller was racking up goals. She finished with 87, hiking by more than 50 her total while playing midfield as a junior. Miller, one of the fastest players in the area, added 40 assists. As the season progressed, she became more vocal on the field and Radnor reached the state semifinals before a one-goal loss to eventual champ Garnet Valley. "She put the team on her back," coach Brooke Fritz said. Next stop for Miller: Georgetown.
Ali Karwoski, Great Valley
Karwoski was the offensive leader for a Great Valley team that began the season with 22 straight victories. With 82 goals and 12 assists, the Delaware-bound senior contributed in a variety of ways for the Patriots (22-2). To wit: She won 307 of 480 draws taken. Such play helped the Patriots earn the top seed in the District 1 tournament. They fell for the first time all season, by a goal, to Conestoga in the quarterfinals.
Kelly Cross, Upper Dublin
Cross' play defined the Cardinals' season as they won a fifth straight Suburban One American Conference crown and she was a first-team all-league selection for the fourth time. Named Upper Dublin's Outstanding Female Athlete of the year, the senior recorded 75 goals and 59 assists for career totals of 259 goals and 456 points. She had 122 draw controls for a career total of 339. Upper Dublin (16-4) would have struggled without Cross, who will join her sister, Amy, at Syracuse.
Katrina Geiger, Haverford High
Geiger capped an illustrious career with a prolific senior campaign. With 117 goals and 41 assists, she buoyed a middle-of-the-road Haverford team (11-8) to a berth in the district tourney. Career numbers of 320 goals, 117 assists and 437 points are all school records, prompting the Fords to retire her No. 8 jersey at the year-end sports banquet. Geiger, bound for Loyola (Md.), scored a season-high nine goals against Downingtown East on May 4. "Her work ethic is next to none. It's the best thing that separates her from other people," coach Nancy McGoldrick said. "Just hoped it rubbed off on my other players. [Geiger] was always in it for Haverford, not just to score goals."
Michelle Gildea, Springfield (Delco)
Fast and athletic, the senior was a major asset in the Cougars' transition game. With talented running mates in Maddy Lynch and Alex Poplawski, Gildea often cut through opposing midfields, igniting the attack for Springfield (17-6). Easily one of the more fleet-of-foot players in the area, Gildea scooped up 46 ground balls and won 27 draws despite not being the team's primary option in the circle. At some point, she found time to score five goals on 11 shots. She's off to Towson.
Emily Pillion, Conestoga
Pillion was a standout for a defense that was Conestoga's strength this season. With "textbook defensive skills," in coach Amy Orcutt's words, Pillion rarely committed a foul and was a shutdown defender for the District 1 runner-up Pioneers (16-9). Perhaps Pillion's greatest asset was her leadership and resolve. After missing two weeks because of a broken left arm, the senior returned to help the Pioneers topple Great Valley for the second time in two weeks in the opening round of PIAA play. She will play for James Madison.
Lyndsey Britton, Radnor
Britton was indispensable for Radnor. The Red Raiders ran their transition game through Britton on just about every possession, impressive considering the junior's small stature - at about 5-foot-2, she doesn't make for a big target on outlet passes. What's more, Radnor often ran its offense through Britton, whose stickwork was an asset on the attack. As a defender, she managed eight goals and seven assists. Her presence was felt all over the field, as she accumulated 41 ground balls and 30 draw controls and forced 19 turnovers. Coach Brooke Fritz said Britton's footwork set her apart. She already has committed to Georgetown.
Hallie Yancey, Strath Haven
No one could have predicted what Yancey did in net for the state runner-up this year. A JV call-up, the junior was thrust into the starting position when the incumbent did not return to the team. Yancey embraced the role and was a force as Strath Haven (17-10) made an improbable run to the PIAA title game. There, she was superb in making 10 saves against a high-powered Garnet Valley team, in a game the Panthers lost heartbreakingly in OT. She finished with 216 saves this season and caused 19 turnovers.