It’s rare to see two different Gatorade Players of the Year -- from two different states -- on the same club team. But for NASA Elite of Georgia, a squad that also boasts three U.S. Soccer national player pool players and 18 college commitments, it’s just another day on the pitch.
Emily Sonnett, this year’s Georgia Girls Soccer Player of the Year, and Sara Coleman, the award winner from Mississippi, both patrol the midfield for NASA. They led the team to the Region III crown last year and coach Dave Smith says he likes their chances to do it again this year.
“It was a great accomplishment last summer,” says Smith, “but the team understands that this is a completely different season. Even though we’re the defending regional champs, we’ve got to go out and gain that momentum and get headed in the right direction again.”
Sonnett is a U18 National Team player and will return to the pitch for NASA after missing the State Cup tournament. Fellow midfielder Abby Lutzenkirchen and goalkeeper Alyse Scott are also National Team pool players, and the roster also includes a handful of regional and state ODP performers.
But Smith knows that resumes don’t win championships and it will take a strong performance on the field for NASA to repeat. The team landed in a difficult Group B that also includes United FA, the squad that beat NASA in the State Cup final this spring.
NASA Elite and United FA have faced each other in the Georgia State Cup final in five of the past six years.
“It’s usually doesn’t feel like a soccer game, it usually feels like a war,” says Smith. “We know each other very, very well. All the players know each other well, and we have a great relationship with their coaches. It’s always a great game.”
They go head to head on Friday in a match that could determine the Group B winner.
NASA Elite (Group B) – Looking to defend title
Brentwood Premier (Group C) – Last year’s runner-up is loaded with ODP players
Creeks Clash (Group C) – Winners of the Disney Showcase, this team too has lots of ODP talent
United FA (Group B) – The rivalry battle between this team and NASA will be huge
Dallas Texans (Group D) – State Cup champs narrowly missed out on a chance at last year’s title
Players to Watch
Emily Sonnett, MF, NASA Elite – Georgia Girls Soccer Player of the Year
Sara Coleman, MF, NASA Elite – Mississippi Girls Soccer Player of the Year
Jessica Hiskey, MF, Brentwood – Regional ODP player signed with Ole Miss
Brooke O’Hare, D, Creeks Clash – SMU signee holds down the back from Creeks Clash
Elise Hight, GK, Oklahoma FC – A big reason why Oklahoma FC returns to the regionals this year
Jill Lutz, MF, Albion Hurricanes – Boston College signee gives Albion a chance in a Texas-heavy Group D
Lauren Bartholomay, F, MSC Lakers – Don’t count out the Louisiana girls with a striker like this
Malinda Allen, Brentwood – Committed to Duke commit, Region III ODP
Bria Washington, NASA Elite – Boston College commit, Region III ODP
Megan Hussey, United – Florida commit, Region III ODP
Alexa Allen, United – Auburn commit, Region III ODP
Kala Faulkner, United – Auburn commit, Region III ODP
Chesney White, Brentwood – Leading scorer in 11-12 National League, UNC Greensboro commit