Bluejays earn All-Valley soccer spots

The MHS girls soccer team may not have won a Valley game, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have several quality players on the roster.
Two of them received conference honors recently, including senior Second Team pick Tracy Pophal and junior Honorable Mention selection Ashley Baumann.
Pophal, who plays both offense and defense roles for the Bluejays, received a Second Team vote from every coach.
“Tracy is a terrific soccer player,” MHS coach Will Bialecki said. “She is much more than just an athlete who plays soccer, she was made to play soccer. Her strength, intensity, instinct and basically every intangible you can think of makes her a great player on the field. She started four years for us, three as a defender and one at forward. She had only two goals this season, but her presence was felt by every team we faced. One on one with any girl I saw this season or in previous years, I would put my money on Tracy. She can play anywhere and has the ability to overcome any challenge she sees in the game. Having been able to watch all of her games over the last four years, I can tell you that she plays the game different from all other girls.
“She is strong with the ball and even better without. Her graduating leaves a huge hole in the team, both as a player and teammate.”
Baumann also made a shift in role.
“The subtle things Ashley does during the game often go unnoticed until the play comes to her side of the field and there she is making things happen for us. Ashley’s game is very instinctual, she is never out of position and finds ways to get involved and help out where other girls fail to do so.
“She made the team because she had great speed, and a fantastic attitude as well as work ethic. She played there very well, I thought she could have easily been all conference last year as well.
“This season she wanted to play midfield and although that meant losing a great defensive talent we decided to give her a chance at right midfield. She played outstanding at midfield. As soon as we moved Ashley to midfield our game changed entirely. We used her speed and endurance along the outside to work the ball downfield to the corners and as a result increased our offensive chances. The great thing about Ashley is that not only would she make runs for us on offense, but never once did I have to tell her to get back on defense. She just did it and that is a trait that is hard to find.
“I look for her to be even better next year and be a leader for the team this offseason into next spring.”

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