Photo: Southside’s High’s Alana Morton (left) competes against Homewood on the Class 6A girls state soccer semifinals on May 13 in Huntsville. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Alana Morton certainly made her mark on her high school soccer program.
A starter at three positions since her eighth-grade season, the Southside senior capped off her long and successful prep career by being named Player of the Year for the All Gadsden Area girls soccer team.
This past season, Morton scored 21 goals and distributed 10 assists as the Lady Panthers finished 18-4-3 and qualified for the Class 6A state semifinal for the fifth straight year, not counting the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. Southside finished as state runner-up in 2019.
In her 75 games playing defense, midfield and striker, Morton ended up with 46 career goals. Her soccer career is far from over, as she signed a soccer scholarship with Jacksonville State University on December 2. She recently was named to the 6A All-State honorable mention team.
“Alana’s athletic prowess is founded on her immense heart and extreme determination,” said Southside girls soccer coach Tiffany Cargill, who received Coach of the Year honors. “She plays with an intensity that is typically unmatched by her opponents due to her formidable disposition. Alana is an inspiring example and a leader for her teammates.”
Three other Southside players joined Morton on the All Gadsden Area first team. Senior midfielder and fellow JSU signee Camryn Davis, who finished with 14 goals 13 assists, was named to the All-State 6A first team and second team Super All-State. Senior defender Ziniah Hardy had four goals and three assists and made the All-State first team. Freshman forward Kinsey Carter, who ended up with five goals and five assists, was picked for the All-State Honorable mention team.
Representing Class 4A/5A state semifinalist and area champion Westbrook Christian on the first team were senior forward and team captain Anna Cate Edwards, who finished with 25 goals and eight assists; junior defender and team captain Aislyn Godfrey; and junior midfielder and team captain Ella Keene, who contributed 14 goals and five assists.
Both Edwards and Godfrey were named to the Class 4A/5A All-State first team.
Rounding out the first team were senior forward Laney Bishop, senior goalkeeper Daijah Hammond and junior defender Ellie Ginn from Glencoe; senior goalkeeper Elizabeth Barnes and junior midfielder Holly Swafford from Gadsden City; junior midfielder/forward Maggie Rebarchik and senior centerback Rocio Ruiz from Etowah; and senior striker Kathleen McCarthy, sophomore midfielder Taylor Knight and senior goalkeeper Samantha Nabors from Ashville. Hammond was selected to the Class 1A/3A All-State first team.
A 2021 North/South All-Star soccer game selection, Bishop finished the 2022 season with 20 goals and assists. Hammond made 148 saves while allowing only 17 goals. Ginn is a three-year starter at defender. All three Players served as team captain, while Bishop and Hammond both signed college soccer scholarships.
Rebarchik scored off of four penalty kicks for the Lady Blue Devils while playing multiple positions, while Ruiz finished with the most blocked shots on school record.
McCarthy was the Lady Bulldogs’ leading scorer despite missing several games due to injury.
Knight played every minute of every game and every position except goalkeeper. Nabors led the state in saves in goal in her first season of competitive soccer.
Making the honorable mention team were junior goalkeeper Anna Kate Welch (167 saves with eight shutouts, second team 3A All-State selection) and freshman midfielder Madison Ashley (five goals, three assists, honorable mention All-State) from Southside; junior forward/midfielder Sarah Guffey 22 goals nine assists), junior defender Allie Blevins and junior midfielder Anna Kilgo from Westbrook; junior midfielder Katie Giles, junior defender Kaitlyn Ponder and junior midfielder Linsey Smith from Glencoe; senior forward Esmeralda Domingo, junior midfielder Merari Velasquez and sophomore goalkeeper Dayana Vega (51 saves) from Etowah; and senior defender Amelia Ryan, sophomore goalkeeper Anna Klaire Ashley, senior striker Hartley Reynolds and junior midfielder Mikenlee Brooks.