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Foothill Finale: Soccer game pits North vs. South

Mother Lode League Goalkeeper of the Year Larissa Barrett, of Summerville, makes a diving stop Tuesday at practice for an All-League game being played June 11 at Bret Harte High. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat
Two girls’ soccer teams brimming with talented high school players from around the Mother Lode League will clash Tuesday for the inaugural “Foothill Finale, North versus South All-Star Game” at Bret Harte High.

A “North” team comprised of the MLL’s All-League MVP, First Team, Second Team and Honorable Mention selections from the Amador Buffaloes, Argonaut Mustangs and Linden Lions is set to face a “South” team made up of the corresponding picks from the Calaveras Redskins, Bret Harte Bullfrogs and Summerville Bears in the first-of-its-kind game that coaches are looking to make an annual tradition.

“Every athlete wants to play that one more game and they deserve it,” said Bret Harte head coach Rosie Sundell during an interview while “South” team players practiced Tuesday at Calaveras High’s Frank Meyer Field. “All-star games exist for other sports, so why not girls’ soccer? I know they’re going to have a good time and there’s going to be some great soccer on display with this level of talent on the field.”

Sundell and the league’s coaches came up with the idea for the game after the season ended at a meeting to discuss this year’s All-League selections. She saw all the names written on the white board and suggested they organize the MLL’s first-ever all-star game.

And the other coaches at the meeting liked Sundell’s idea, including Calaveras head coach Rob Leetham and Summerville boss Brad Schultz.

“For years, I’ve always thought how fun an all-star game would be,” Schultz said, “and when Rosie mentioned it, I thought, ‘Yes, let’s get this done!’ “

Sundell said that by the end of the meeting, the six MLL coaches had formed a basic plan for how they would go about getting the new event off the ground and then started putting those plans into action.

However, the event is still a work in progress. Sundell said there may be a small admission fee that would be used to fund future all-star games, but those details have yet to be finalized with the school.

“It’s a lot of work organizing something like this for the first time,” Schultz said. “We have to make sure we aren’t violating any rules and that everything is covered, but it all seems to be going OK.”

Players for the “South” who practiced Tuesday at Calaveras High were excited for the unique opportunity to play on the same team as their rivals.

“I never thought I would ever get to play with some of these girls,” said Bullfrog defender Diana Munoz. “It’s definitely going to be a fun — and different — experience.”

The “South” team features the MLL’s Forward of the Year Tiffany Souza, of the Redskins, and Goalkeeper of the Year Larissa Barrett, of the Bears, while the “North” squad includes  Defender of the Year Alex Giannecchini, of the Lions, and Midfielder of the Year Madissen Ostergaard, of the Buffaloes. Ostergaard helped lead Amador to the Sac-Joaquin Division VI title and a share of the league championship with Calaveras.

Despite her season having ended weeks ago in the first round of the Division V Championships, Souza said she was “fired up” to face the girls from the “North” squad, especially Ostergaard, for one last time in her high school career.

“I think we have a really good shot at doing well,” Souza said. “I already have confidence in the girls from my team, and I know there are some ruthless girls from Bret Harte and Summerville who are going to be assets.”

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