Soccer players recognized By MICHAEL REID
The high school soccer season has just concluded and already the awards are rolling in as five Southern Maryland Athletic Conference athletes were recently named to the all-state high school soccer team.
Three players made the list as first teamers. Leonardtown goalie Chad Selph was named to the boys team while Tori Bellucci of Huntingtown and Calvert’s Megen Jackson each earned a spot on the girls team.
“I'm incredibly excited, it's a huge honor,” said Jackson, a senior. “I couldn't have gotten to this point without my teammates. It's been challenging, day in and day out, but I've been working hard.”
Bellucci, a junior, said the award came as a surprise.
“I’m so excited because I had no idea I was picked for something like that,” she said. “I’m kind of in shock but also very excited that they thought of me for that team.”
Selph, a senior starter, was named to the team after making the tough transition from goalie to midfielder his junior to senior seasons.
“Switching was very difficult,” he said. “[It was] countless hours learning the position and it’s just a big change going from using your hands in the goal to using just your feet.”
Evan Norfolk of Northern was granted a place on the boys honorable mention squad as was La Plata’s Destinee Morris on the girls side.
“I was very honored,” Norfolk said. “I was excited to be even nominated by Coach [John] Rossi.”
Morris played a key role in La Plata’s run to the Class 3A South regional championship game.
“It's a huge honor to be named on the state team,” Morris said. “I take great pride in my success at La Plata and I am so excited that I am [Coach Kevin] Barry's first player to be named [to an all-state team].”
Selph, a three-year varsity player and two-year starter, was the Raiders’ starting keeper his junior year and posted eight shutouts and a 0.50 goals against average on his way to a place on The Enterprise’s All-County first team.
This past year he was selected team captain and made the move to midfield. It worked as he led the team in assists (14) and was second in goals (7) as Leonardtown won its second straight conference crown.
The 6-foot-0, 154-pounder has been speaking to Division I colleges about playing next year and he plans to major in electrical engineering.
“Oh, I’m very excited,” he said of making the team. “I’m excited to be a part of what’s going on.”
Bellucci had yet another stellar season as she was second on the team in goals (11) as Huntingtown won 17 of 20 games and was a Class 3A state semifinalist and a co-SMAC champion.
“Tori’s a leader on and off the field,” Huntingtown head coach Jill Twetten said. “A player’s a player and a team’s a team but she’s definitely an impact player. When she’s out there everybody’s better.”
Bellucci deflected her success to her teammates.
“I think it’s just the way we work together,” she said. “It’s made me step up my game.”
Jackson, a four-year varsity player and two-year captain, was the sparkplug in the Cavaliers’ playoff push this season as she led the conference in scoring with 18 goals and added five more goals in the postseason. She was also named All-SMAC Player of the Year and has verbally committed to play at Salisbury University next fall.
“Megen is dedicated to soccer, she works hard at practice, and she takes it very seriously,” Calvert head coach Dawn Lister said. “She is demanding of herself on the field; she sets high expectations and tries to achieve them.”
Jackson said her success is based on the fact that she simply doesn’t like to lose.
“I always have a ball at my foot and have played a lot of travel and just have a competitive attitude,” she said. “Calvert soccer has been a major part of my life for my four years. The program has grown so much. I can't wait to come back home and watch them next year. They are going to be good next year, too.”
Norfolk helped Northern, the defending Class 3A South regional champions, win 58 games as a four-year varsity player and three-year starter.
“He has been a part of a midfield that has led us to a state final two years ago,” Rossi said. “This year his presence in the midfield was very impressive. He played excellent defense and never lost possession of the ball. We tied Lackey late in the season (0-0 on Oct. 17) when Evan was sick and could not play. I always knew Evan was an important factor in games and his absence that night could be seen by everyone. He was the main player to start attacks and distribute out of the back and without his leadership we were not the same team that night.”
Norfolk said the key to his success was working hard, no matter who was paying attention.
“Always working hard even when coaches aren't looking is the key to success,” said Norfolk, who hopes to play soccer in college. “Wanting to get better is important as well.”
Morris was a Calvert County killer this past season as two of her nine goals came in the form of game-winners against Huntingtown and Northern.
“Playing soccer my whole life has led me to success on the field,” said Morris, who plays for the Freestate Elite in the Elite Clubs National League and has committed to play soccer at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. “I plan to work hard during the summer in order to earn a spot on the field as a freshman [at college].”
“When Destinee came in as a freshman we knew she was a special player and she committed herself to the game of soccer,” Barry said. “Over the past four seasons she has worked incredibly hard at improving all aspects of her game and has a great ability to create opportunities for her and her teammates.”