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Local high school, college stars honored at All-America banquet

21 players from Greater Philadelphia were named All-Americans by the United Soccer Coaches

Georgetown defender Elizabeth Wenger, of Lititz, Pa. (left) photographed with Orlando Pride forward Jasmyne Spenser
Matt Ralph

Nearly two dozen players from the area were among the hundreds of soccer players honored by the United Soccer Coaches as All-Americans at a banquet held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Saturday.

“It’s truly an honor, I’m very proud and thankful also to my coaches, my family and my parents,” said Seiji Rose, a defender for Jefferson University, who was named a third-team Division II All-American. “I was very lucky when I chose colleges to fall on Jefferson/Philly U. Great coaches, great people.”

Rose was one of three with ties to the area honored in Division II, which included West Chester University defender Julia Kirkpatrick and Nova Southeastern defender Bailey Corbin, of Lampeter, Pa.

Elizabeth Wenger (Lititz, Pa.), a Georgetown senior defender whose older brother Andrew Wenger played for the Philadelphia Union in 2014-15, and Lehigh forward Mark Forrest (Douglassville, Pa.) were the only Division 1 recipients with local ties. Wenger was drafted in the same ballroom two days earlier by the Boston Breakers with the 17th overall pick in the NWSL draft.

Division III award recipients on the men’s side included Rowan attacker Shane Doherty (Delran, N.J.) and the Messiah trio of Dakota Rosenberg, Colby Thomas and Kirby Robbins. Arcadia forward Jess Kelly (Langhorne, Pa.), Rowan defender Emily Daigle (Millville, N.J.) along with Messiah teammates Brooke Firestone (Dover, Pa.) and Delaney Cole (Lebanon, Pa.) were honored on the women’s side.

For Cole, a junior defender who has twice recovered from ACL injuries, becoming the latest (along with Firestone) in a long list of All-Americans from Messiah was hard to even believe.

“This is super overwhelming actually but really exciting,” said Cole, who is from Lebanon, Pa. “It’s fun to just celebrate the season.”

In addition to the All-Americans at all levels of college, from junior college and NAIA to NCCAA and all three divisions of the NCAA, high school and youth All-Americans were also honored. Philadelphia Union Academy forward Tonny Temple was the lone local recipient in the youth category, but did not attend.

Several from high school soccer were recognized, including Lower Dauphin forward Jackson Becher, whose dad, Bill Becher, is the Technical Advisor for Penn FC and the former long-time head coach of the Harrisburg City Islanders

“It’s great,” Jackson said of the event. “It really shows the hard work that I’ve put in and my teammates that helped me get to where I am today. I definitely couldn’t get where I am without them.”

Becher said it was a proud moment seeing his son, who is committed to play college soccer at UMBC in the fall, recognized.

“He’s put in a lot of hard work over the years,” he said. “He’s been fortunate to be around some really good players and be part of a great team in high school but he’s done a lot of work himself and made himself a pretty good player.”

Other high school honorees on the boys side included Delran forward John Strohlein, Central Bucks West midfielder Tarin Morris, Conestoga forward Chris Donovan and Salesianum School forward Bryce Wallace.

Maryland freshman forward Alyssa Poarch (Middletown, Del.), a freshman at Maryland, received the honor as part of the All-American awards given out to players who competed in winter or spring seasons in 2017. The girls side also included Conestoga defender Hannah Morgan (Berwyn, Pa.), Cinnaminson forward Hailey Gutowski and Owen J. Roberts forward Mahogany Willis (Pottstown, Pa.).