There was 1:45 left to play in Tuolumne on May 3 and Summerville and Linden were tied 1-1. This was the Bears’ regular-season finale, ‘Senior Night.’
Summerville Bear Sallie Blue scored an area-high 25 goals in 2012. Blue is the first soccer player to ever earn two All-Area Most Valuable Player awards. AMY ALONZO ROZAK
Summerville had already clinched a playoff spot but who wants to lose or tie on ‘Senior Night’?
Bears’ midfielder Sierra Parada booted an on-the-money 45-yard pass which senior teammate Sallie Blue took possession of in mid-stride. There was a Linden defender and keeper left for Blue to beat.
“That’s a play I didn’t need to see to know what happened,” said Bret Harte head coach Rosie Sundell. “When Sallie gets the ball and there’s just one or two players that she needs to deal with, there’s the highest of probabilities that she will score. Sallie has that mentality: ‘I’m going down the field to score and you can’t stop me.’ ”
Blue indeed flew by that Linden defender on May 3 and came charging in on the Lions’ keeper.
“So Sallie lets fly this hard shot and the goalie had no chance,” said Bears head coach Brad Schultz. “Sallie kicked that ball so hard the goalie fell backwards and into the net trying to stop the shot. It was such a clutch score. That win meant so much to our girls. That’s my favorite Sallie Blue goal of this year.”
He had a lot to choose from.
In 22 games, Blue scored 25 goals.
“Any time that any team played Summerville,” said Sundell, “the first question you’d have to ask yourself is, ‘How will we defend Sallie Blue?’ She is so strong, she is so fast and she is so tenacious.”
And she is the 2012 Union Democrat All-Area Most Valuable Player.
“Sallie getting the All-Area MVP award is very deserving,” said Sundell. “I’ve never seen anyone quite like her. The results she gets on the soccer field are amazing.”
Blue was the 2010 All-Area MVP. An early-season injury forced Blue to miss half of the 2011 season.
This 2012 honor was especially meaningful to Blue.
“I have to admit that I’m in tears,” said Blue upon being notified of her MVP award. “There were so many good players in our area this season so I feel very honored.”
“There’s no question that Sallie deserves the MVP award this year,” said Sonora head coach Denyse McLaughlin. “There is no comparison from anyone else as to what Sallie has accomplished these past three years. She is not only the dominant player on her team, but she’s also the dominant player in her league.”
“I could not be any happier about the choice for this award,” said Schultz. “Sallie is a special player and she deserves it. For the past three years, when you played Summerville, Sallie was the athlete you feared and had to be aware of at all times. Her combination of strength, speed and power was unmatched. Sallie had this mentality that the truly great forwards have: They want that ball at their feet to score when it matters most. Yet, still, she was completely unselfish. When Sallie saw an open teammate, she gladly passed that ball.”
“When I was playing defense against Sallie,” said Calaveras senior sweeper Alissa White, “I was always so impressed with how quick she was. Once she gets a few steps on you, you’ll never catch her again. You’d either hope for an offsides call or completely haul butt to try and catch her. Sallie and her teammates had this mental telepathy — they knew where she was and where she was going to. She is an awesome player.”
And speaking of awesome players, there’s ... Alissa White.
It’s not an every-year award. But this season, the overall spectacular play of both Alissa White and Summerville senior sweeper Megan Sonnberger deserves special recognition.
Sonnberger and White were each the unquestioned captains of their teams’ defense. Calaveras finished 8-4-3 in Mother Lode League action, good for second place. Summerville was 7-3-5, in third. Both teams advanced to the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Championships.
Thus Sonnberger and White are the Union Democrat All-Area Most Outstanding Defenders.
“Alissa and Megan were both such strong players,” said Sundell. “Both of them made it so difficult to score goals.”
“I have always felt that Megan is a phenomenal defender,” said Blue. “Without Megan, we would have been a totally different team this year — nowhere near as good.
“Alissa also had a really good season. She’s very smart. She knew my runs. She got to know how I liked to play. She is a very talented defender and she made that Calaveras defense so effective.”
“I loved watching Megan Sonnberger play,” said Calaveras head coach Angela Jarvis. “She is an excellent defender. She’s solid and tough. She’s a thinker, a smart player. She counter-attacks really well, too. She not only defends but she’ll send it up to the right person. To be able to start a counter-offensive is huge.”
As for White, Jarvis said, “Alissa was a die-hard. She was out there every single game playing her heart out for us. This year, she really developed her skills. She carried the ball up a lot for us. Her counter-attack from her defensive spot really improved a lot this season. Alissa is a very aggressive player. She also directed our defense in an assertive way while still maintaining good, positive energy. She motivated her teammates with her encouragement. She was very dedicated to her teammates and coach. I’m thrilled she’s being recognized by this honor because she deserves it.”
“This is such a big honor to me and it’s totally unexpected,” said White. “I feel very honored and am very thankful for this.”
As for her mindset when playing sweeper, White said, “My main thing is to simply be thinking, ‘Get to the ball.’ I don’t care who I’m playing, I’ll throw my body around and fly all over the place just to make sure I get to that ball.”
Says Sonnberger, “In playing sweeper I first try and make sure my own nerves are calm. Then, after that, it’s a lot easier to direct your defensive teammates. My job is simply to make sure the other team doesn’t score — focus on that and let nothing else get in my way.”
As for being named a Most Outstanding Defender honoree, Sonnberger said, “I didn’t expect this at all, but it does feel really good and I’m grateful.”
“Megan absolutely deserves this honor,” said Schultz. “And I’m glad she’s being recognized like this. Megan did a fantastic job running our defense.
“If I saw an opponent on a breakaway, I’d get nervous. Then once I saw Megan enter the picture, I’d breathe a sigh of relief because Megan would put a stop to that threat. Every game, Megan would always have two, three or four outstanding plays making sure opponents didn’t score.”
Sonnberger and White will each be attending college in the fall. White will be at Boise State and Sonnberger Columbia College. While both plan on making soccer a part of their recreational life, neither plans on competing at the collegiate level.
Blue will be attending Cabrillo College and plans on trying out for the soccer team.
“I do love the sport,” says Blue. “I do have muscle in my legs which I think I was just born with. But everything else about soccer I’ve learned from Brad. He has taught me everything I know.”
“When people say me ‘What makes Sallie Blue so successful at soccer,’ I say it’s because of three things,” said Schultz. “No. 1, her speed. No. 2, she doesn’t back down from anyone. And No. 3, she’s not afraid to go out and get that ball. How many times did we see Sallie out-sprint, out-hustle and outwork opponents to get to that soccer ball? The answer, of course, is a heck of a lot.”
“Sallie is a true competitor,” said McLaughlin. “She wanted to be successful and she wanted to win and she was willing to work hard to make those things happen.”
“When Sallie kicks that soccer ball, you can see her strength and technique,” said Sundell. “Her whole body is in the air after she finishes a kick — perfect technique. I am really happy for her that she got the All-Area MVP this year.”
With a laugh, Sundell adds, “And I’ll admit it: I’m very happy she’s a senior!”