At the top, the 2009 DODDS All-Europe girls soccer team has all the usual superlatives. The 15-player first team has a lights-out goalkeeper and experienced playmakers, defenders and scorers, 14 of them juniors and seniors.

But the intriguing part of the 15-player second team is the number of freshmen — six — who cracked the roster of the elite in their first varsity seasons.

Even more surprising is the importance of the positions they played. Although there’s no place to hide the soccer equivalent of the skills-challenged Little League right fielder, some positions are more involved than others.

Naples frosh Haylea Witz, for example, played every minute of every game, according to her coach, Joy Bork, in the key center midfielder position, scoring nine goals herself while organizing many more than that for her teammates.

Wiesbaden freshman Jaelyn Coates also lined up at center-mid and responded with 12 goals as the Lady Warriors posted a 6-1 regular season. Wiesbaden’s lone loss was to eventual Division I champ Ramstein.

Ramstein coach Ricardo Buitrago employed his freshman all-Europeans at stopper and sweeper, where Mackenzie Crews and Karin Mol, respectively, responded by helping the Lady Royals to an unbeaten season. Ramstein surrendered just one goal during a regular season which saw the Lady Royals play several games without their injured starting goalkeeper. They allowed one more goal during the D-I tourney. Crews also scored five goals for Ramstein, while Mol, Buitrago said, was the only player on his team to play every minute of every game.

Patch coach Tom Manuel started his freshman All-Europeans at striker, where Nelly Loney and Emma Murray each responded with 11 goals. Loney even led the European D-I runners-up with eight assists, but came to her varsity debut from a different direction than her linemate.

"I don’t play German soccer," said Loney, who’ll be spending her summer playing for Europe’s entry in the national under-19 AAU basketball tournament in Florida. "The game just comes naturally for me."

Murray, on the other hand, credited her time with a German club team in Warmbronn for her quick transition to varsity success.

"It’s helped incredibly much," she said of playing club soccer. "My foot and ball skills improved tremendously."

Was she surprised to succeed so quickly?

"I really didn’t know what to expect," Murray said. "I kind of went into the season wanting to do my best."

"Best" was the name of the game last season for the first-team selectees, who include three 20-goal scorers in seniors Martina Diana of D-III champion Marymount International School of Rome (23) and Shamyra Coleman of Vilseck (20), and junior Kylee Wilstead of AFNORTH (22).

Diana, along with her teammate, 2008 holdover Elena Carrarini, was one of eight first-teamers who played for a 2009 European title team. Unbeaten Ramstein included Laura Welch, the lone sophomore on the first team; third-time selectee Macy Jepsen, a senior who along with Carrarrini was the only other holdover from last year’s first team; and junior Michaella Herron. Sisters Alyssa Krause, a senior, and Jessica, a junior, combined for 26 goals this season for D-II champ Black Forest Academy. And senior Bethany Walcott earned MVP honors while leading Rota to the D-IV crown.

Vilseck’s Coleman, a second-teamer in ’07 and ’08, was joined by ’08 second-teamer Katrina Alsup, a Baumholder senior, in moving up to the first team in their final seasons. Vilseck senior Tamaria Hollis, a first-teamer in 2007, made the second team for the second straight year, and International School of Brussels senior Mimi Bergman returned to the second team after a one-year absence from the elite 30.

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