Quintet of state winning players from one middle school team
The photo you see here shows the first ever soccer team at Holy Family School in New Albany.
The year is 2005, and in that first season the fifth and sixth grade Eagles soared to success, winning the Louisville Catholic School Athletic Association’s City Championship.
Six years on, the legacy of that same team can be felt throughout Indiana and Kentucky as another unique achievement is added to its list of firsts.
No fewer than five of its members won a high school soccer state championship title this fall, in both boys’ and girls’ realms.
In October, Lauren Holland, Casey Marlin and Erin Wallace (pictured front row, far right, in that order) were part of Providence’s Class A girls’ tournament success, the first IHSAA state sanctioned victory in the school’s 60 year history in any sport.
And last week, Mitch Brinkworth (right of goalie, front row) and Logan Riely (front row, second left) were among the St Xavier boys’ team which captured its 11th KHSAA state title last week (see story below).
All are still good friends, and can be found at Floyd Central’s fields at weekends having a kick about when time allows.
Coaches of the Eagles at the time were Tim Brown, whose sons Trent and Wade were part of the team, and Bobby Holland, father of Lauren. Holland was also part of Providence’s success this year as an assistant coach.
“It’s pretty amazing that five players from this team captured state titles this season,” said Brown.
“(The) team was loaded with talented players. Looking at the picture, I can count 13 out of 21 players who started varsity soccer at various local high schools. I was fortunate enough to coach these kids all the way through the 8th grade at Holy Family. I think we lost one game while they were (at the school).”
In 2005, the tournament extended to the month of June, so the Eagles ended up with a lot of players out of town on vacation for the finals.
“I only had Mitch and Erin that day,” said Brown. “I remember asking Mitch to slide back to right defender from striker. He did it with no questions asked and played a great game for us that day. Erin had our first goal – a long low shot from the right side. She also played the entire game.”
Brown added that both Logan Riely and Lauren Holland have come back from some pretty major injuries to be a part of these championship teams.
“Logan has had a laundry list of injuries and Lauren blew her know out last season and has come back from that,” he said.
The team played in Louisville because it wasn’t until the following year, 2006, that the New Albany Deanery Soccer League, featuring 3rd to 8th graders from numerous local schools, was founded.
In fact, Logan Riely’s dad, Frank, was a major force in its development and Brown thinks the Eagles also played their part in giving it a kick start.
“I believe the success of this team went a long way to establishing the Deanery League,” said Brown.
He said that along the way, the players received great coaching from their different clubs, including Southern Indiana United and Net-Surfers locally, not to mention top tutelage at the high school level from Dave Smith (Providence) and Andy Schulten (St. Xavier).
However, Brown added that even then he knew he had a gifted bunch.
“These kids were great to coach,” he said. “Some of them you could tell were talented at that age. Some of them were average soccer players at the time. I believe each of them had the love for the game that made them put in the time and effort to develop into the players they are today.
“It’s been a fun soccer season seeing these kids win state championships. It really speaks well for the state of soccer in southern Indiana.”
Soccer powerhouse St Xavier won its 11th Kentucky state title last week, and helping them achieve the record feat was a trio of southern Indiana natives.
The Tigers (27-1-1) won the championship 3-0 against Ryle at Paul Dunbar High School in Lexington, chalking up their 26th consecutive victory.
Among the squad were Henryville’s Gabe Stewart, along with Floyds Knobs’ pair Mitch Brinkworth and Logan Riely – all seniors.
Stewart, also a team captain this year, was on the St Xavier team that won state in 2009, but was stopped in its tracks last fall by Louisville Collegiate. He said winning this year was very important to him.
“It’s very satisfying after all the hard work we’ve put in,” he said. “We deserved to be champions because we were a true team. Everyone contributed along the way, and everyone played their best when it counted.”
Stewart attended St. Paul Catholic School in Sellersburg before going to Sacred Heart Model School in Louisville, and onto St Xavier.
He will play the upcoming club season with Indiana United Fire Development Academy in Carmel, and is committed to playing at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee when he graduates next year.
Brinkworth and Riely have been best friends since attending Holy Family School in New Albany together (see accompanying story), and have played on school teams ever since.
The Kentucky State Soccer Championship game was Brinkworth’s last organized game, and he hopes to help coach youth soccer at Holy Family this spring before starting college at Purdue University.
“It was surreal,” said Brinkworth of the experience. “Winning state is what we seniors have been working toward all year. It’s a great ending to my high school soccer career. I’ll never forget it.”
Brinkworth started playing soccer when he was four and was a member of Floyd County YMCA teams before moving on to Southern Indiana United when he was 10. He has played every eligible season since that time through last spring.
The achievement was a personal triumph over adversity for Logan Riely. He had been out of the game since last November, when he had an avulsion fracture in his hip.
After four months of rehab, he returned to practice with his United 1996 travel team in March, only to dislocate his left kneecap in practice a week later. That particular injury required surgery and three more months of rehab.
Riely finally returned to action in early September and got to play in 19 games for St. Xavier this fall, scoring 12 goals.
“I’m still trying to comprehend it all,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better to end the season on.”
Riely said the best thing about winning the championship was the fact that they achieved their goal from the beginning of the year as a team.
“It was also all the fan support from family and friends that we got not only at the game but from people watching on the internet across the country,” he said. “I had family and friends watching in Florida, Illinois, Colorado, Oregon and California. It really made you feel how big winning this title really was.”
Who said you have to play club?! Last night, No. 13 Collegiate beat No. 3 St Xavier, a team loaded with travel soccer talent, 2-1 in the semifinal of the Land Rover Louisville Kentucky Cup at Ballard.
It’s the second time in less than a year that the Titans have toppled The Tigers (1-1-1), the last meeting being in the first round of last year’s state tournament when they halted St Xavier’s march towards a possible fourth successive title.
Jack Lindner bagged the winner for Collegiate, while junior keeper David Keyer made some big second-half saves from Danny Belza and Adam Kirsch.
Keyer is a three sport athlete who does not play club soccer. (Hoops is his primary sport, while he also plays Lacrosse.)
However, his coach Brad Davies told us preseason — for a Vype Magazine feature – that when you see him play, he “screams prototype Division I keeper.”
Another, Kennedy Kommor, stopped playing club soccer after the 8th grade, electing instead to play three sports in high school (basketball and tennis being the others).
As a result, Davies believes both Kommor and Keyer are “way under the radar” in terms of recognition for their talent.
“We believe KK (Kommor) is one of the best pure soccer players in the state, and those with a discerning eye for soccer will agree,” said Davies.
Assistant U of L coach Mario Sanchez told him that he believed Kommor could be the best player on the field in any game they play this fall.
“Coach Sanchez has seen the best our state has to offer,” added Davies. “KK is that good. Technically he is superb and tactically he is miles ahead of most high school players. Already at the Division I university level technically, he hits a heavy ball, plays supple passes, and recently broke our program record for juggling.”
A third non-club player – and also a three sport athlete — is junior Andrew Steggeman, who played for the Titans as a freshman, spent a year away from the school, and moved back to Louisville this year.
Collegiate (3-1) advance to Saturday’s championship game against the winner of tonight’s semifinal between No. 5 Covington Catholic and No. 6 Oldham County (7.30 p.m.).
And just to exemplify how open this season is proving to be, No. 1 Ballard will face No. 2 Male this evening (5.30 p.m.) in a consolation game. In Tuesday’s first round, Ballard lost to Covington Catholic in a penalty-kick shootout, while Male fell 3-1 to Oldham County.