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Spagnolo, Odom named VND Soccer Players of the Year

| Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, 11:50 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Burrell's Tom Spagnolo attacks the ball against East Allegheny's Tyson Nguyen during the soccer game at Burrell High School on Tuesday, September 24, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Plum's Aaliyah Odom runs with the ball ball against Fox Chapel's Janelle DeBaldo during a game at Fox Chapel on Wednesday, September 11, 2013.
Matt Dziadosz, Kiski Area
Fox Chapel senior defender Shota Furuhata is a 2013 Valley News Dispatch soccer all-star selection.
Gary Bills | Plum Advance Leader
Senior Stephen Hemmerle will try to help the Plum varsity boys soccer team qualify for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs out of Section 3 in 2013.
Highlands senior forward Victor Nelson.
Riverview's Cole Wilson
Freeport senior forward Erica Jack is a 2013 Valley News Dispatch soccer all-star.
Samantha Kovach, Highlands
Lauren Kelly, Fox Chapel
Olivia Sharbaugh
Knoch senior Brandon Vargo is a 2013 Valley News Dispatch boys soccer all-star.
Valley senior defender Cody Schrecongost is a 2013 Valley News Dispatch boys soccer all-star.
Riverview junior forward Cole Wilson is a 2013 Valley News Dispatch all-star.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Riverview's Christian Snyder (9) reacts to losing a WPIAL soccer playoff game against Sewickley Academy on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, at Mars Middle School.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Highlands girls soccer junior Samantha Kovach kicks the ball during practice at Highlands High School in Harrison on Monday, August 26, 2013.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Knoch's Olivia Sharbaugh, left, and Freeport's Devin Malarik, race to get a foot on the ball during girls soccer action Monday, September 30, 2013 at Freeport High School.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Steve Munn and Riverview's Christian Snyder battle for the ball during the WPIAL Class A boys soccer quarterfinals Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, at Mars.

2013 Valley News Dispatch soccer players of the year

tom spagnolo | Senior, forward, burrell

Each of Burrell's Spagnolo brothers enjoyed success on the soccer field, but this past season might've provided Tom Spagnolo enough accolades to secure him permanent bragging rites over his brethren.

Spagnolo, a senior forward, served as the goal-scoring specialist for Burrell, which finished with 56 goals during a season in which it went 10-6-2 and claimed the Section 1-AA title. Of those 56 goals, 21 belonged to Spagnolo, who also earned 10 assists.

Section 1-AA coaches took notice of Spagnolo's offensive acumen and rewarded him with the section's Player of the Year distinction.

Spagnolo further cemented his credibility as a scorer when he found the back of the net in the Western Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association's Class AA all-star game.

Whether he convinced older brothers Pete and Phil that he's the best soccer player of the Spagnolo family remains unclear. But Spagnolo also proved himself worthy of the Valley News Dispatch's boys soccer Player of the Year distinction for 2013.

Q: How would you describe your playing style?

A: I'm a finisher; that's it. … I take defenders on, go one-v-one with them, and just beat them and get my shots on goal.

Q: Did you notice changes in the way teams approached you?

A: Yeah, at the end of the year and the second time we played some teams, they'd man-mark me and would try to not let me touch the ball. Even if I was on the other side of the field, there'd be a guy there on my shoulder. I had to shake them and try to get open, try to find space to make my runs. I kind of expected toward the end of the year, because I knew teams needed to shut me down. I kind of didn't like it, because of course it's more difficult to score, but I worked my way through it.

Q: Who are your role models or inspirations?

A: Probably Cristiano Ronaldo. I try to model everything, really: How he runs, how he shoots, how he plays, his style on and off the field. I guess he's kind of my idol.

Q: How did your brothers' success and careers shape you?

A: It really did a lot, because I learned so much from them. I feel like I kind of had an advantage being the youngest.

boys all-stars

Jack Dickens

Fox Chapel, senior

Named All-State and All-WPIAL, Dickens finished with 17 goals and served as the upfield facilitator in an offense that scored 71 goals in 18 games.

Matt Dziadosz

Kiski Area, senior

The All-WPIAL central midfielder provided a booming left foot on direct kicks and finished the season with nine goals and seven assists.

Shota Furuhata

Fox Chapel, senior

An All-WPIAL selection, Furuhata occupied the heart of a defense that allowed just nine goals in 18 games.

Stephen Hemmerle

Plum, senior

Hemmerle's trustworthy tackling abilities and defensive instincts earned him an All-WPIAL nod.

Shane Mullin

Deer Lakes, senior

Looked to for leadership and versatile play at the central midfield position, Mullin finished with four goals, 12 assists and All-WPIAL recognition.

Victor Nelson

Highlands, senior

An essential cog in the offence, he was involved with 21 of Highlands' 27 goals. His 10 goals and 11 assists earned him All-WPIAL honors.

Cody Schrecongost

Valley, senior

Schrecongost's athleticism at sweeper factored greatly in Valley allowing more than two goals just once in 14 games. He was named All-Section 1-AA for a third time.

Christian Snyder

Riverview, junior

As a center midfielder, Snyder earned All-WPIAL and Section 2-A Player of the Year honors during a season in which he had 10 goals and 10 assists.

Brandon Vargo

Knoch, senior

Named All-WPIAL and the Section 2-AA Player of the Year, Vargo finished with 16 goals and nine assists.

Cole Wilson

Riverview, junior

Wilson, an All-WPIAL selection, used his explosive speed to pile up 16 goals and 10 assists. He also handled corner kick duties.

Honorable Mention

Name Class School Pos.

Ben Andrews Jr. Knoch M

Austin Barneycastle Jr. Deer Lakes GK

Joey Cox Jr. Burrell M

Tyler Graham Sr. Kiski Area D

Josh Killian Jr. Riverview M

Dakota Lange Jr. Kiski Area F

Matt McCausland Jr. Deer Lakes M

Dan Milberger Sr. Riverview D

Brett Miner Sr. Knoch GK

Ludger Oelck Jr. Riverview GK

Cole Ryan So. Fox Chapel F

David Shipe Sr. Freeport D

Max Silberg Fr. Fox Chapel F

Chris Skinner Sr. Deer Lakes F

Brandon Smail Sr. Kiski Area GK

Peter Sturtevant Sr. St. Joseph M

Corey Williams Sr. Plum M

Aaliyah odom | senior, forward, Plum

Defying current high school soccer trends, Plum senior Aaliyah Odom never joined a Cup program during her time with the Mustangs.

A soccer-heavy offseason apparently wasn't necessary for the speedy forward, who thrived the last several seasons and finished her final year with 24 goals, five assists and All-WPIAL honors.

Odom, who has committed to Clarion, credited much of her success this season to Plum's wealth of talent. Paired up top with sophomore Ashley Amato in the Mustangs' 4-4-2 scheme, Odom had the opportunity to focus almost solely on how to put the ball in the back of the net.

For her impressive ability to finish, Odom is the Valley News Dispatch's girls soccer Player of the Year for 2013.

Q: How did the improved depth and talent elsewhere on the team change what you did?

A: This year was probably the first year where most of my goals weren't from breakaways. I don't think I actually had many breakaways. But we had good crosses, so I could score on headers and volleys. We were just more skillful with the goals we scored this year.

Q: How do you describe your playing style?

A: I use the fact that I'm fast a lot. I'm a pretty basic player; I don't use too many moves and stuff. I just kind of keep it simple and try to use my speed to my advantage.

Q: What goals are you most proud of?

A: I got probably four or five headers this year, and those are just exciting goals. It also was a big deal when I scored two against Gateway, because in all four of my years, I only scored one time against Gateway, and it was my freshman year.

Q: How do you keep your soccer skills sharp and excel without committing to the sport year-round?

A: From playing cup, I learned that I need to play more basic. I realized that doing moves slowed me down most of the time, and as the years went by, I got better and better at doing what I know how to do.

Q: Are there any other sports you wish you tried in high school?

A: I played volleyball up through ninth grade, but I had to stop because it was during the same season as soccer. I always wanted to do track, but I'm not really a track person. I wasn't bad at track, but I get nervous, and I don't like the feeling of getting nervous.

girl s all-stars

Ashley amato

Plum, sophomore

A major piece of Plum's potent offense, Amato garnered an All-Section 3-AAA nod for a season in which she scored 18 goals and drew defensive attention away from Aaliyah Odom.

abbey gore

Knoch, senior

Often the Knights' last line of defense, Abbey Gore played a major role in Knoch securing nine shutouts. The All-WPIAL selection also had four goals and three assists.

dava jack

Freeport, senior

The Yellowjackets' fleet-footed sweeper denied opposing offenses the opportunities to connect over-the-top passes and create breakaways.

erica Jack

Freeport, senior

As speedy as her twin sister, Erica Jack used her gift to blow past defenders and accumulate 25 goals.

Lauren Kelly

Fox Chapel, senior

Expected to fill a defensive role at Division I Winthrop, Kelly showcased her offensive skills during an All-WPIAL season in which she had 18 goals and 10 assists.

samantha kovach

Highlands, junior

Calm under pressure, Kovach, an All-Section 2-AA selection, specialized in shutting down breakaways and had five shutouts.

gabi Lassinger

Knoch, senior

Lassinger, an All-WPIAL selection, had 13 goals and 11 assists. She has committed to Lafayette as a defender.

Olivia Sharbaugh

Knoch, senior

Operating at the forefront of Knoch's offense, the California (Pa.)-bound Sharbaugh scored 17 goals and registered 19 assists to secure All-WPIAL honors.

Allison Seiler

Springdale, junior

Seiler received an All-WPIAL nod for a season in which she finished with eight shutouts.

samantha Shepherd

Burrell, senior

Shepherd, an All-Section 2-AA selection who has committed to Division I Virginia Military Institute, locked down on opponents' best forwards.

Honorable Mention

Name Class School Pos.

Taylor Cohen So. Fox Chapel M

Janelle DeBaldo Sr. Fox Chapel D

Sarah Friedland Sr. Fox Chapel D

Lexie Galbreath Sr. Knoch GK

Alex Gipson Jr. Plum M

Alex Gradwell Sr. Springdale D

Emily Knepshield Sr. Kittanning M

Amanda Kuba Sr. Springdale M

Nikki Polens So. Riverview M

Hannah Ross Sr. Highlands D

Alyssa Ruffini So. Valley F

Theresa Scheiffarth Sr. Fox Chapel M

Stacey Sikora Sr. Kiski Area D

Brittany Smajda Sr. Springdale M

Ashley Szymkowiak Sr. Burrell D

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