Honors keep coming for state runner-up soccer team
The accolades keep rolling in for De Soto's 4A state runner-up soccer team. This time, however, the awards went beyond the team.
Forward Jesse Smith was named to the 1A-4A all-state team. Forward Jordan Hevel, goalkeeper Sean Karashin and defender Josh Arnold were all selected to the all-state second team.
Coach Mike Murphy was honored as the 2003 Northeast Region Coach of the Year for his part in the Wildcats success this season.
"It's nice to have the respect of your colleagues," he said. "You always like to see your name being recognized, as well as your program.
"The kids aren't always coming to you and saying, 'work us hard.' You just hope they appreciate it all in the end."
Murphy downplayed the award by saying that it was generally given to the coach of the team that advanced the farthest into the playoffs. Voting for the coach-of-the-year award and for the all-region team is slightly different than voting for the all-Kaw Valley team. For one, the vote for the all-conference team brings league coaches together for a conference call. The vote for the Region V team is voluntary for the coaches.
Secondly, a player has to be nominated and elected to the all-conference team. But to get on the all-region team, a player has to be nominated and his coach has to take part in the voting.
For that reason, Murphy makes it a priority to cast his ballots.
"It's nice for the kids to get recognition from the coaches that have seen them play outside of the conference as well as in the conference," he said.
Region V consists of some of the teams from the Kaw Valley conference and other teams outside of the conference as well. State powers like Maranatha and Kansas City Christian are also members of the region.
A total of eight players are chosen to the first-team offense and first-team defense, collectively. The Wildcats had four players earn recognition on the team in one form or another.
Smith, De Soto's career leader in goals (74) and second in assists (22) led the way by getting named to the first team.
His 24 goals and 10 assists this season place him atop the Wildcat career chart when total points come into the equation. He has a total of 170 points for his career.
Smith's 22 assists are behind career leader Craig Dickerson's 29. Dickerson played for the Wildcats from 1995-1998.
When tabulating total points, goals count for two points and assists are credited as one point.
"There are very few players who can do what Jesse has done for us," Murphy said. "When he graduates we'll find out just how good of a coach I am."
Earning second team honors were Arnold, Hevel and Karashin. James Azeltine cracked the lineup by earning honorable mention status.
Arnold, who played just one varsity season for the Wildcats, finished this year with 19 points (eight goals and three assists).
Hevel will probably be called on to help fill the shoes of Smith next season and prepared himself by having a big junior season. He finished second on the team with 39 points (14 goals and 11 assists).
Murphy said that playing Azeltine, who had three goals and an assist, out of his natural position could have cost him post-season honors. He regretted Azeltine's lack of notice but said it wasn't overlooked by the team.
"He was one of the biggest reasons we were successful in the playoffs," Murphy said. "I think a lot of coaches overlooked him because we utilized him for team purposes and not individual."
Karashin moved up to second on the career chart with the 10th shutout of his career this season. He shut-out seven opponents this year.
Doogin Brown, who played from 1998-1999, is the career shut-out leader with 14.