By Chris Goltermann
Soccer is a defensive game. But having a prowess for clutch scoring can take a team’s success to a different level.
Both East Coweta senior Laney Steed and Newnan junior Dean Goad did just that for respective girls and boys lineups this spring while helping carry much of the offensive load in years where their teams finished either first or second in Region 2-7A.
It’s one reason why its coaching staffs voted both county standouts as Region 2-7A Most Valuable Players while leading local accolades for both East Coweta and Newnan.
Steed, who returned to the field for her final varsity season after missing all of 2018 with a torn ACL, made up for lost time.
En route to 2-7A’s Girls MVP honor, the Lady Indians forward scored 38 goals — capped off by a hat trick in the Sweet 16 against Roswell — and added 13 assists while now headed to play at the University of Florida following graduation.
Goad, meanwhile, was a clutch scorer up top during another strong season for Newnan’s boys that produced the program’s first home state playoff game since 2011.
Just as Goad was tenacious up top while using his speed and athleticism to create scoring chances, the Cougars were a collective nuisance to opposing teams in region play. Finishing with a 4-1 record to earn the No. 2 seed from 2-7A, Newnan also earned three other nods on the All-Region First Team as well as a Co-Coach of the Year honor for Brad Willems.
Joining Goad on the First Team were a pair of Cougar defenders in senior left fullback David Ponce and sophomore center fullback Colin Sweeney.
Also named to the First-Team squad for Newnan was senior center midfielder Tanner Bassett.
Region boys champion Pebblebrook joined Newnan and East Coweta with four players that were named to the First Team.
The Lady Indians, however, led all lineups regardless of gender with six All-Region First Team selections including Steed.
Junior defenders Brookelyn Still and Megan Rainey also received that distinction in addition to senior keeper Abbie Chaves. Together they helped combine to allow just one goal in five games against 2-7A opponents.
Chaves made 77 saves and posted nine shutouts in her final varsity season while signing with the University of West Georgia. Still remained a lockdown center back on defense while managing to add four goals and eight assists.
Rainey was equally stout on the left side and had a goal and four assists.
Senior midfielders and co-captains Ellie Watson and Adriana “Nana” Garcia also were named to the All-Region First Team while equally supplementing the offense with double-digit totals in both goals and assists.
Watson, who signed with Georgia College and State, posted 13 goals and 17 assists while Garcia closed out her career with 15 goals and 12 assists.
All five players have also been selected to play in the Class 7A All-Star Game for head coach Todd Beldon, who earned his own invitation on top of receiving
Region 2-7A Coach of the Year.
Both the Indians and Lady Cougars had representatives on the first team. East Coweta’s boys included seniors Andrew Wilson (13G, 14A) at forward and Noah Shumake (10G, 4A) at midfield.
Junior midfielder Matthew Allen (8G, 3A) and freshman center fullback Michael Alrutz (7G, 1A) also received similar distinction for the Indians.
Newnan’s girls had a pair of first team selections in senior Ansley Cost and junior Alice Marsh Willems, both of whom were tasked with heavier responsibilities.
Willems was again moved up top to forward to fill a need for goal scorers and finished the spring with 15 along with eight assists.
Cost was shifted to the center of the back line and became one of the Lady Cougars’ top defenders.
Newnan’s girls also had three athletes receive second-team honors including senior Ryanne Hart and sophomore Maggie Flanagan on defense. Flanagan also added seven goals and four assists.
Lady Cougars junior keeper Maddie Miller joined the pair as a second-team selection.
Newnan senior boys keeper Rad Wyrick and senior midfielder Angello Sanon were among four Cougars on the boys’ second team along with juniors Justin Sanchez on defense and Abel Villecusca at forward.