The deepening of talent across the city is shown on the 2013 Aurora Sentinel All-City Girls Soccer Team —as selected by the Sentinel with balloting of city coaches — as all six of the programs that netted spots in the 32-team Class 5A state playoffs have at least one player on the first team.
Centennial League champion Smoky Hill made it further than the other five city teams in the postseason, as the Buffaloes posted a first round victory before falling on penalty kicks to Liberty in the second round.
Smoky Hill has four All-City first teamers, headed by senior striker/midfielder Candace Cephers, a Virginia Tech signee who posted her second consecutive season of 20 goals in 2013.
Cephers — who began her career as a defender before taking on a more offensive role as a junior — had a five-goal game against Overland and scored twice in both of Smoky Hill’s playoff games.
Cephers became even more effective with the arrival of freshman striker Sam Howshar, who battled through a nagging hip injury to post double digits in both goals (11) and assists (12).
No other Aurora girls player managed double figures in both offensive categories.
Smoky Hill’s offensive duo both earned All-Centennial League first team honors, as did freshman defender Sami Brooks, who bolstered a unit that allowed just 20 goals in 16 games. Brooks also contributed an assist in the Buffs’ 3-2 win over Arapahoe.
Sophomore Megan Kneefel —who was pressed into action in 2012 due to injury — posted three shutouts and led Aurora goalkeepers with 106 saves, the same total as graduated Smoky Hill starter Riliegh Ladyga had last season.
Eaglecrest’s 8-4-3 season and berth in the 5A playoffs — the program’s first in 15 seasons — came with a lot of help from an offense spearheaded by senior striker Brittney Thornton and sophomore Korena Perales, who played up top as well as in the midfield.
Both players ended up with 10 goals for the season, accounting for 20 of the Raptors’ 35 scores.
Thornton got her goals in bunches — capped by a four-goal effort against Rangeview — while Perales spread hers out, with at least one in seven games and six in Centennial League play.
Thornton exits the program as Eaglecrest’s career leader in goals scored, as she’s notched a total of 32 in four seasons — breezing past the previous record of 23. Perales could be the next holder of the mark, as she has racked up 21 goals in two seasons already.
Both offensive players received first team All-Centennial League honors, as did senior Jessica Westhoff who was the lynchpin on a mostly experienced defense that allowed just 19 goals — 11 less than last season — in 15 games. Westhoff chipped in two goals and five assists from the back line.
Rangeview posted a 9-0 mark to win the East Metro Athletic Conference championship and earned a home game to open the 5A playoffs, but suffered a 3-2 overtime loss to visiting Doherty to finish 12-4.
Midfielder Vanessa Madera, part of the Raiders’ strong junior class, earned EMAC Player of the Year honors by scoring 18 goals — second on the team to Megan Campbell’s 26 — to go with 10 assists.
Madera had six multiple-goal games, including a high of four against Prairie View.
Strong play in the midfield keyed Grandview’s push to the playoffs, where the Wolves (8-5-2) lost a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker to Rocky Mountain.
Senior Carly Seib led Grandview with nine goals on her way to first team All-Centennial League honors. She’s signed to be part of the first Division I women’s soccer team at Colorado State.
Junior Katie Cunningham played a key defensive role for a team that allowed 18 goals, the fewest of an Aurora team.
Cherokee Trail’s sister act of Emily and Taylor Burton helped drive the Cougars to 6-7-2 record and their first state playoff berth since they moved up to 5A.
The sisters accounted for 54 percent of Cherokee Trail’s total offense, as Emily Burton — who is headed to Western State — had a team-high nine goals and Taylor chipped in five while playing a mix of defense and midfield.
Both Burtons received All-Centennial League first team honors.
Regis Jesuit is represented on the All-City first team by senior striker Meghan Kilkenny, who has signed to play at Colorado College.
The Raiders didn’t score much in 2013 — 16 goals total — but when they did, Kilkenny was generally involved.
The All-Continental League first team selection led the team in goals (five) and assists (three). All of Kilkenny’s goals came in Regis Jesuit wins or ties.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at email@example.com or 303-750-7555
2013 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-CITY GIRLS SOCCER TEAM
Forward: Emily Burton, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Sam Howshar, Smoky Hill, fr.; Meghan Kilkenny, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Brittney Thornton, Eaglecrest, sr.; Midfield: Candace Cephers, Smoky Hill, sr.; Vanessa Medera, Rangeview, jr.; Korena Perales, Eaglecrest, soph.; Carly Seib, Grandview, sr.it; Defense: Sami Brooks, Smoky Hill, fr.; Taylor Burton, Cherokee Trail, soph.; Katie Cunningham, Grandview, jr.; Jessica Westhoff, Eaglecrest, sr.; Goalkeeper: Megan Kneefel, Smoky Hill, soph.
Forward: Megan Campbell, Rangeview, jr.; Kelsi Lidge, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Whittney Taggart, Grandview, jr.; Brynell Yount, Smoky Hill, soph.; Midfield: Gabby Garcia, Eaglecest, jr.; Madison Garst, Rangeview, jr.; Shannon Harpham, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Madi Watts, Smoky Hill, soph.; Defense: Courtney Lowry, Rangeview, sr.; Kelsi Smith, Eaglecrest, sr.; Kaitlyn Storm, Smoky Hill, sr.; Haley Thompson, Regis Jesuit, soph.; Goalkeeper: Elena Eidson, Grandview, sr.
Joanna Aguilar, Gateway, sr.; Ingrid Alvarez, Overland, soph.; Natalie Baltizar, Regis Jesuit, soph.; Ashley Broeker, Rangeview, jr.; Nicole Doherty, Vista PEAK, soph.; Kimberly Fuentes, Hinkley, jr.; Aubrey Gessner, Cherokee Trail, soph.; Abby Gower, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Raquel Isaac, Hinkley, fr.; Jacqueline Helguera Lopez, Gateway, jr.; Salma Luevano, Rangeview, jr.; Maria Martin, Aurora Central, jr.; Cindy Martinez, Hinkley, sr.; Jazmine Figueroa Mendoza, Gateway, soph.; Adalis Montoya, Hinkley, soph.; Andrea Nogales, Aurora Central, jr.; Jennifer Perez, Hinkley, sr.; Rikki Quintero, Rangeview, soph.; Diana Rivera, Hinkley, jr.; Maddie Rodriguez, Grandview, jr.; Kaylee Szuch, Rangeview, sr.; Carly Taphorn, Rangeview, soph.; Brooke Tasker, Grandview, jr.; Jessica Tennyson, Eaglecrest, sr.; Jolee Thailing, Rangeview, jr.