Highlights of 2009 …

If you asked me to recount the year in soccer using just a few words, “penalty shootout” and “handball” would probably figure prominently among any summation — both locally and on a wider scale.

The last year of the ‘noughties’ saw New Albany scoop the regional boys’ title – on penalty kicks – against Seymour. The Bulldogs won the sectional title against Floyd Central in a shootout too.

And then there was the boys’ sectional final between Jeffersonville and Providence which had both penalties and a controversial handball decision to keep the online comments page buzzing for a while.

Nationally, Real Salt Lake beat LA Galaxy to win the MLS Cup (on penalties, of course), while No.2 Virginia beat No. 1 Akron to win the men’s College Cup – also in a shootout.

Globally, there was Thierry Henry’s hand which helped France squeeze past Ireland to qualify for the much anticipated 2010 World Cup. Afterwards, FIFA talks of introducing two extra referee assistants at both goal lines for this year’s tournament in South Africa, while the rest of the world talks about video technology.

Off the field, generosity was in abundance as fundraising efforts by the local soccer community came to the fore for breast cancer awareness, and for countries such as Kenya and Haiti.

And there’s more …
 
‘Supermom’ is tops
February: Jeffersonville’s Delana Goodson is named the state’s top team manager at the Indiana Youth Soccer awards in Carmel. She has been manager of Southern Indiana United’s U14 team for three years and beyond seeing to the normal duties like registration, tournaments, fees and uniforms, Delana is also the team’s photographer, videographer, social planner and indoor manager. Phew!

State Cup champs
May: New Albany High School’s Kaitlin Robinett heads her Mockingbird U17 team to a fourth straight Kentucky State Cup title in Lexington. Jeffersonville based defender Trevor Bruner is part of the Javanon U17 team which comfortable captures its third consecutive title, while a third player, Nathan Driggers of New Albany, is part of the Javanon U18s which gets the better of fierce rival United 1996. Meanwhile, teams from Southern Indiana United and Net-Surfers find the going tough at the Indiana State Cup and Challenge Cups.

Balls replace garbage bags
June: Children in Kenya replace soccer balls made out of garbage bags for the real deal thanks to local generosity. Southern Indiana’s Net-Surfers are among those to help the Hearts4Kenya charity, donating 20 balls, which made it to Africa with volunteer Sara Dickman, former varsity girls’ soccer coach with New Albany HS. Also helping the cause were Kraatz Sporting Goods, The Quest Class of Trinity Methodist Church and various local schools.

Close to national glory
July: Javanon’s ’92 and ’91 outfits, featuring the previously mentioned Bruner and Driggers, travel to the US Youth Soccer national championships in Lancaster, Massachusetts after securing regional crowns. Driggers and Co. make it to the U18 national final, where they are edged out by Discoveries SC of South Carolina.

Press box dedicated to “ultimate soccer mom”
September: Providence’s new soccer press box is dedicated in honor of soccer fan Kathy Brown, who died after a brave battle with colon and liver cancer in January. Brown was married to local soccer coach Tim and was mother of Providence varsity team members, juniors Trent and Wade. Construction is made possible through the generous donations of an anonymous benefactor.
Rivals get Passionately Pink
September: Floyd Central and New Albany girls go pink in an effort to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. The game between the two local rivals, entitled “Passionately Pink for the Cure,” benefited the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

Bulldogs win regional crown
October: While only posting four regular season wins, New Albany bursts alive post- season to take a second straight sectional and its second ever boys’ regional title, beating Seymour in the championship game on penalty kicks. Jeffersonville beats Providence in the area’s other sectional championship on penalties in a controversial encounter, having found themselves 2-0 down with six-plus minutes to go. The turning point comes when defender Keenan Sparks picks up the ball after he thought it had gone across the goal line. Floyd Central girls, meanwhile, wins their fourth straight sectional crown without the aid of penalties or handballs, beating Corydon in the championship decider 7-0 after a semi-final win against rival Providence. In the regional final, it loses 1-0 to Columbus North. Zionsville and Indianapolis Cathedral win the boys’ and girls’ Indiana state titles.

Jubilant Jaguars
November: River City Jaguars win the National Homeschool Soccer Championship Division II title in Fort Wayne, Indiana after going on a four match unbeaten run. The 19 strong  co-ed roster from 7th to 12th  grades comprises players from far and wide, including New Albany, Jeffersonville, Clarksville, Floyd Knobs, Borden, Pekin, Corydon, Georgetown, Louisville and Shepherdsville.

After the Thunder, Lightning strikes
November: After 22 years, professional soccer returns to the area as Louisville Lightning starts in inaugural season in the Professional Arena Soccer League at Mockingbird Valley. The expansion is co-owned and chaired by Jeffersonville architect Wayne Estopinal. Outdoors, Real Salt Lake beats LA Galaxy to win the MLS Cup.

Indianapolis World Cup bid
December: The draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup is made and the United States is in Group C with England, Algeria and Slovenia. The much anticipated opening matchup against England will take place on June 12. Meanwhile, Indianapolis ups its attempt to be included as one of the 12 host cities used by the USA if the nation is successful in winning a bid to stage the 2018 or 2022 World Cups. Over 10,600 fans have so far signed a petition to have the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium as one of the venues.

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