By Dan Stillwell
For three years, PikeView’s Laura Hill ran the show from her center-midfielder spot.
She scored goals, but assists were her priority.
That suddenly changed early this season when Panthers all-state forward Hope Nester was lost to a knee injury.
Hill, forced to move up to striker, immediately began to put the ball into the back of the net.
The 5-foot-9 senior scored a whopping 59 goals to lead PikeView to its third state tournament appearance in the last four seasons.
Hill captains the 2012 Class AA-A all-state soccer first team, as selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
“I didn’t know until this year Laura had that nose for the goal,” said her father, PikeView coach Sam Hill. “She hadn’t been the type of player who tries to score at all costs.”
Most of her 56 previous career goals had been from 15-18 yards out.
“Those were primarily the only true opportunities she had, not being a true striker,” Hill said. “This year she scored a variety of goals. She never was particularly great in the air, but she scored twice with her head.”
Hill could still go long, of course. Her 100th career goal was a direct kick from 38 yards out at Nicholas County. She had three more from at least 25 yards.
But Hill became adept at beating defenders in the box and firing past the goalkeeper.
“Laura scores goals you like to see players score,” Hill said. “She reads the play and sees where she can get an advantage.”
Hill had 34 assists last season in addition to 30 goals. When she moved from center-midfielder, her role was filled admirably by teammate Charlotte Webster.
She dished out 24 assists in addition to scoring 20 goals for 16-5-2 PikeView.
“Charlotte tore an ACL in a soccer match as a freshman, and tore the other ACL playing basketball her sophomore year,” Hill said. “She never was 100 percent as a junior, but this year she was healthy and her quality showed on the field.
“Had she played healthy for four full years, she would be considered one of the top players in the state.”
State champion Bridgeport, runner-up Fairmont Senior and regular-season No. 1 Sissonville also placed two players on the first team.
Besides Hill, the other first-team forwards are Bridgeport sophomore Amanda Sayman and Sissonville senior Lydia Murray.
Sayman scored 28 goals and had 16 assists helping the Indians go 20-4-1 on the year. They defeated Fairmont Senior 3-2 in the championship game in Charleston.
Murray scored 35 goals for Sissonville, giving her 132 for her career.
Webster, Fairmont Senior’s Gabi Mascaro and Ivey Nucilli, and Lincoln’s Emily Knight are the midfielders.
Mascaro and Nucelli, both juniors, were standouts as the Polar Bears went 15-9-1 and battled their way to the finals. Knight, also a junior, excelled in both soccer and football (as a kicker) this fall for the Cougars.
Herbert Hoover sophomore Bailey Aab and Tyler Consolidated’s Sophie Kinnard, a junior, are the goalkeepers.
Midland Trail senior Hannah Legg, who scored seven goals, Bridgeport sophomore Jenna Alonge (five goals, Sissonville senior Shelby Swiney and Poca junior Marissa Perkins are the first-team defenders.
Bridgeport forward Alexis Alastanos (22 goals, 10 assists) captains the second team. She’s joined by Pocahontas County’s Samantha Walton (24 goals), and East Fairmont’s Kristin Busund (37 goals, 15 assists).
Midfielders are Peyton Mullen from Charleston Catholic, Ciara Romine from Robert C. Byrd, Grafton’s Kari Fawcett and Hanna Schoolcraft from Herbert Hoover.
Pocahontas County’s Lorena Rose and Grafton’s Shawna Graham are the goalkeepers. PikeView’s Shyann Carr, Midland Trail’s Summer Whipkey, Weir’s Jessica Derby and Haleigh Kilgore from Bridgeport are the defenders.
Midland Trail players receiving honorable mention status were Mindy Sevy, Molly Sevy and Marissa Workman.