Top 10 soccer stories of 2011

It’s that time again when we reminisce and select a mix of the best soccer moments and stories of 2011, both locally and elsewhere.

Just a glance at the top moments suggests it was the year of girlpower, with a state title for the fairer sex coming to the area, not to mention the excitement of the Women’s World Cup in the summer.

The moments are in no particular order of preference, and if you feel we’ve left anything out, you can add to it here.

To all our readers and friends: Thanks for all your support and co-operation during the year, and have a very, merry Christmas and a kicking 2012.

Providence: state champs

Providence wins Indiana girls’ state title

Along with the introduction of two class soccer to Indiana came Providence’s first IHSAA state sanctioned crown in any sport courtesy of it girls’ soccer team. The Pioneers beat Mishawaka Marian in the Class A championship game in a penalty shootout at Kuntz Stadium, Indianapolis, completing an unbeaten year (21-0-2). Providence went through the postseason without conceding a single goal, while also recording 12 consecutive shutouts.

Christian Academy wins sectional

Christian Academy of Indiana wins its first ever boys’ sectional crown when beating Providence 2-0 in the local Class A championship decider. Floyd Central beat Jasper 2-1 in the local Class 2A girls’ sectional title game, while Jasper beat New Albany in the Class 2A boys’ sectional final 2-1 after overtime.

Local trio part of Kentucky state champs

Soccer powerhouse St Xavier wins its 11th Kentucky state title and helping them achieve the record feat are southern Indiana senior trio Gabe Stewart, Mitch Brinkworth and Logan Riely. The Tigers (27-1-1) win the championship 3-0 against Ryle at Paul Dunbar High School in Lexington, chalking up their 26th consecutive victory.

The Proposal

I think she said yes ...

Colin Bell will always remember his first victory in sectionals as Silver Creek boys’ soccer coach, an 8-0 result against Rock Creek Academy, for more than one reason. It also was the night he proposed to his sweetheart, Morgan Young, during the halftime break at the Providence-hosted event. With his side up 4-0, Bell made his way over to the bleachers with his players, each one carrying a rose. There sat Pioneer graduate Young, who had been asked to bring a “forgotten” polo top of Bell’s to the game. “The first guy put the vase down in front of her and the rest set their roses in the vase,” Bell told Kick It.“ I had this whole thing prepared, comparing soccer to love, but I froze up. All I said was, ‘I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?’” Luckily, Young responded in the affirmative, to the roaring approval of the crowd.

Another goal tragedy

Fourth grader Jonathan Nelson dies after a goal falls over at Elm Tree Elementary school, Arkansas in January. Police and administrators confirm the goal was not anchored, while parents tell a local TV station that some children were leaning against the goal when it fell over and hit the nine-year-old  in the head. There have been 36 known and reported deaths in the United States from injuries sustained by soccer goals since 1979. During that time, players in Lafayette, Indiana and Bardstown, Kentucky have sustained serious injuries.


Klinsmann named new U.S.A. coach

Bob Bradley is relieved of his duties as the U.S. men’s coach and is replaced by California based German Jürgen Klinsmann, ushering in a new era in U.S. soccer and finally ending a five year chase for his services. Qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil start for the U.S. next June.

A Real ‘Gemma’

Gemma Newland, Southern Indiana United’s vice president of referees, is named the Administrator of the Year by Indiana Youth Soccer. “It feels weird to have all of this attention,” said the New Albany mother of four, recognized for her tireless dedication for the past 18 years. “The reward was totally unexpected, as I don’t feel that I do anything remarkable.”

Japan shocks the world

The Women’s World Cup

The FIFA Women’s World Cup, held in Germany during the summer, saw the United States just miss out on the title when beaten on penalty kicks by surprise packet Japan in the final. However, it was the quarterfinal clash against Brazil – a sports movie in one game — that will long be remembered. It had the earliest ever own goal (74 seconds); a sending off;  a debatable penalty after said sending off;, a spirited fight back from a U.S. team uniting to overcome adversity, manufacturing the latest ever goal in a World Cup. And to top it all, the game then had a thrilling penalty shootout victory with goalkeeper Hope Solo pulling off a match wining save. Hoosiers Lauren Cheney and Lori Lindsey were also part of the squad. The event was described as World Cup 2.0 as there was a notable shift in the public obtaining information or watching games online.

UofL reaches Elite Eight; Women make Sweet 16

The University of Louisville men’s soccer team goes out of the NCAA Division One tournament at the Elite Eight stage, losing to UCLA, who it had conquered at the same point last year on its way to the final. This year’s championship game sees No. 1 North Carolina beat unranked state rival Charlotte 1-0. The Cards women’s soccer program, meanwhile, posts its greatest postseason run, making the last 16 but losing out 2-0 to ninth ranked Florida State. The title is won by Stanford, who beat Duke by a lone goal.

Estonia's, er Ireland's, Conor Cunningham

Fan blags way onto bench

Republic of Ireland fan Conor Cunningham travels to Talinn, without a ticket, to see his country’s Euro 2012 first leg play-off against Estonia and ends up on the opposition’s bench. When trying to blag his way into the game with his friends, he discovers an Estonian tracksuit in a small room with a bag of soccer balls. He proceeds to put the tracksuit on over his jeans and Ireland shirt. Cunningham continues the story:  “I didn’t know what to do, to be honest, so I thought I’d better go into the Estonian dug-out. No one said anything to me and then I realized I was sitting beside their manager (Tarmo Ruutli).” At the end of the game, he goes onto the field with his bag of balls and celebrates with the delirious Irish players, who practically ensure qualification for Euro 2012 with a 4-0 victory.


Other stories: Los Angeles Galaxy wins MLS Cup; Barcelona wins Champions League final against Manchester United and World Club Championship against Santos; River City Rovers plays its first season in the Premier Development League; Borden’s Grant Hollkamp makes Region II ’97 team; Wales national team coach and former player Gary Speed apparently takes his own life; former Brazil star Sócrates dies; Women’s Professional Soccer survives as a five team league is approved for 2012 by the U.S. Soccer Federation.


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