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NHS players earn post-season honors

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NJ file photos Jacob Abu Zhara, left, was a welcome addition to the Dogie Soccer team this year. The foreign exchange student led the team in points and was a force to be reckoned with on the pitch. As such, 3A East Conference coaches, as well as the coaches from the 3A West Conference bestowed both All-Conference and All-State honors on him for his performance throughout the season.
Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

The votes are counted and the results are in. 3A coaches met last weekend at the state soccer tournament in Rock Springs to select the All-Conference and All-State teams, and both Newcastle High School’s Dogies and Lady Dogies earned honors for their efforts on the pitch this season.

Jacob Abu Zhara was the big winner, being named to both the 3A East All-Conference roster as a midfielder and to the 3A All-State team for the same position.

The Lady Dogies’ top player was Hailey Beastrom, who was named to the 3A East All-Conference team as a midfielder as well.

Abu Zhara came to the Dogies this season as a foreign exchange student from Germany with a wealth of soccer know-how. He was a playmaker and a force to be reckoned with for any opponent the Dogies faced off against. He ended the season as the leading goal scorer for the Dogies, knocking in eight, and he was also a part of three other goals as he had three assists on the season.

“Jacob was a threat no matter where he was on the field, which usually helped give us an open man as they attempted to double team him to shut him down,” head coach Sally Hoover began. “He has incredible soccer knowledge and field awareness, and he has been a huge asset to the team who became an unofficial leader as he was very good at helping his teammates know where to be on the field during the game.”

As a junior, Beastrom was the Lady Dogies’ go-to player who really could play any position on the field. Beastrom played most of the year as a defensive midfielder, but finished the year with eight goals and three assists. She was also the player who took a majority of the Lady Dogies’ free kicks.

“Hailey helped shut down attacks through the middle but was also able to get into the offensive third and be a threat with her long shots,” head coach Cami Willyard said. “She also possessed leadership and composure on the field throughout the season, which was recognized by the rest of the conference.”

Both squads also had players who earned Honorable Mention to the All-Conference teams in their various positions.

William Beastrom and Christine Swentesky were each acknowledged for their goal-keeping prowess. Beastrom took advantage of all 6 feet, 8 inches of height he is blessed with to fill up the goal and make it tough for strikers to get balls past him.

“Will had the most saves of any goalie in the conference, and his size made it incredibly hard for our opponents to score,” Hoover said. “He was invaluable in the back, keeping us in games when we would inevitably make a mistake that would cost us a shot on goal.”

As a freshman, Swentesky took to varsity soccer like a fish to water. Willing to sacrifice her body to save a goal, she was a thorn in every opposing coach’s side given her athleticism and uncanny ability to block strikers’ attempts to score.

“Christine had a great season in goal with 128 saves,” Willyard said. “She also played on the field at times and finished the year with four goals. Both are notable achievements for a freshman!”

Jacob Powers earned Honorable Mention for his abilities in the midfield. New to NHS, Powers helped the team out by scoring four goals throughout the season, and, according to Hoover, he excelled at winning the ball in the midfield and carrying the ball through to the attacking half, putting his team in excellent scoring position.

“Jacob was a great addition to our team this season,” Hoover said. “He has incredible soccer knowledge and skill, and he had excellent one-v-one skills that served our team well this season.”

Skyler Cummings and Zach Orsborn each earned Honorable Mention as defenders on the Dogies back line. Cummings brought a great deal of speed to the back line, while Orsborn was Hoover’s level-headed center back who always knew just when to step to win the ball.

“We often relied too much on Skyler covering for us, knowing he could run faster than pretty much any other player we went up against,” Hoover said. “He was also a big part of our communication on the field as he was the person who directed traffic, letting everyone know where they needed to be defensively.”

“Zach was just solid on defense and he also took almost all of our penalty kicks that were outside of the 18,” she continued. “He also really worked on his speed this past year and could be relied upon to cover the outside backs when teams made those long outside runs down the line, which helped Skyler out.”

As the penalty kicker, Orsborn scored one goal and had one assist on the season.   

Ruth Rose was also given Honorable Mention for her prowess as a defensive midfielder.

“Ruth did a great job defending the middle of the field and sliding in to help the back line,” Willyard said. “Her understanding of the game and endurance helped us out tremendously.”

The Lady Dogies will return all three of their award winners to the pitch next season, however, each of the Dogies who were acknowledged are seniors, which will open the door for underclassmen to step up next year to fill their shoes.


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