With Juniata's District 6 championship in its first year in the Mountain League, it shouldn't be a surprise that the Mountain League Nittany Division girls soccer all-star team is loaded with Indians - six to be exact. Not to be left out are the four Panthers and two Warriors who also received all-star honors.
However, the players weren't the only ones honored this season. Juniata coach Dave Portzline was named Class AA coach of the year.
Portzline said he was happy to be named coach of the year, but deflected the credit to his players.
"I have to give all the credit to the girls because I wouldn't be coach of the year if they didn't play so well all season," he said.
On the first team from Juniata is Hannah Ritzman, Carly Burns and Riley Zimmerman. Ritzman, who Portzline called a "workhorse", was one of the key scorers for the Indians this season, as well as a leader.
"She was the leader of the team," he said. "She led the team on and off the field. She never quit, never stopped working. I was pleased with her performance this year and with everything she brought to the team."
While Ritzman put the ball in the net, it was Zimmerman making sure the opponent could not, anchoring the Juniata defense.
"She was just a rock in the back for us," Portzline said. "There were multiple times where I had her marking certain people and she can stop anyone. She has really, really improved the last two years and this year she really shined."
The biggest surprise for Juniata, Portzline said, was the performance of freshman Carly Burns.
"We got her from (Juniata Mennonite School)," he said. "She did a wonderful job with great vision. She was everywhere where we needed her to be. It's definitely a big honor for her to get first team as a freshman."
Lewistown had two first team all-stars - goalkeeper Emma Hepler and sophomore midfielder Logan Snyder.
"She was a four-year starter in goal," Lewistown coach John Stiver said of Hepler. "She was excellent in goal for us. She made some stellar saves in a lot of games."
As for Snyder, Stiver said he still can't believe Snyder's goal on a direct kick against Indian Valley at Mitchell Field this season.
"She made such a nice shot under the lights against IV," he said. "She really stepped up her game, too. She controlled the middle for us and served a lot of good balls for scores."
The lone first teamer from Indian Valley was sophomore Ellee Harpster, who Warrior coach Anita Valerio said was a solid defender and consistent player.
"She was extremely consistent throughout the season. She's the type of play that's able to maintain her composure," Valerio said. "I think this year she stepped up a little more. She's still a little shy because she's a sophomore, but I see her coming out more and more."
Juniata's three players named to the second team are Nicole Krabill, Joanna Swartz and Lauren Baublitz. Portzline said he got to coach Krabill all four of her years at Juniata and will be sad to see his sweeper graduate.
"She's a great sweeper. She's always been solid for us back there," Portzline said. "She's always able to clear a ball out of the back."
As for Swartz, Portzline said she was the Indians' vocal leader on the field.
"She was the one that kind of dictated things on the field," he said. "She kept us in games where we kind of fell apart. We always need someone on the field that can do that and almost become like the third coach on the field."
Portzline said one of his most improved players this season was Baublitz.
"Lauren was considered our superhero this year," Portzline said. "She improved each game and performed her best I think toward playoff time. We're really going to rely on her more and more in the future."
Lewistown's two second team all-stars were Madi Walters and Catey Hunter, who Stiver said seem to be joined at the hip.
"They're best friends and they were our scorers this year," Stiver said. "They're both very good ball control gals. Our offense ran through them."
Sophomore defenseman Erika Shawver was the lone Indian Valley player to be named to the second team.
"She will leave her heart on the field," Valerio said. "She's very aggressive, tenacious. She played all over for us. She's very versatile."