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10 girls soccer players to watch for 2022 season

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Williamsville South vs Sweet Home

Williamsville South forward Ava Plezia battles Sweet Home's Jalynn Batchelor for the ball during a girls soccer game against Sweet Home on Sept. 7, 2022. Williamsville South won 12-1.

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With the girls soccer season underway, here are a few players to watch, as many are coming off stellar 2021 seasons.

Kailey O’Brien, forward, 12, Clarence: Named to the Coaches All-Western New York first team the last two seasons, she will aim for a three-peat. Last fall, O'Brien had team-highs in goals (22) and points (57). Youngstown State commit led the Red Devils in assists in her third year as a starter and her point total tied her for 10th in Section VI. She capped her junior season by being named to the all-state third team in Class AA.

Gianna Tuzzolino, midfielder, 11, Williamsville East: Had 18 goals and 13 assists last season. Selected to all-state third team in Class A. The Flames went 12-0 in ECIC II and advanced to the Class A1 semifinals last fall and are off to a 3-0 start, outscoring opponents 18-0. Tuzzolino has three goals so far.

Linda Ullmark, midfielder, 11, Nichols: Only sophomore selected to the All-WNY first team last season and was the lone freshman the year before. Last season, Ullmark had 15 goals and 12 assists. With two seasons to play, she already is a two-time All-Catholic selection and two-time team MVP.

Sophie Auer, forward, 12, Lewiston-Porter: As a junior, Auer helped the Lancers to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s championship game for the first time since 1996. Lew-Port finished 17-1-1, and she was selected All-WNY second team, ending the season fourth in Section VI in goals (34), third in assists (20), and third in points (88).

Anna Bean, forward, 12, East Aurora: Led the section in points (107) and goals (44), and was fourth in assists (19). During last season, she recorded her 100th career point and was named All-WNY second team. Has four goals and four assists in four games this season.

Uma Bhattacharjee, forward, 11, City Honors: Reigning Randcliffe Cup Player of the Year had 25 goals, seven assists and 57 points a season ago, and led the Centaurs to the Class B1 sectional final. The team had an 8-0 record in league play. This season, City Honors is off to a 4-1 start and is the only Buffalo Public Schools program with multiple wins.

Samantha Payne, forward, 11, Clarence: One of the leaders on the field with O’Brien for the Class AA finalists last fall. Second on the team with 36 points and 16 goals, and had four assists. Clarence is already 5-0, and Payne has a team-high nine points and four goals.

Ava Plezia, forward, 10, Williamsville South: Coming off an All-WNY second-team selection as a freshman, Plezia has had a strong start to her sophomore year, and is tied for first in the section in points (22) and goals (nine) through five games. In the Billies' 12-1 win against Sweet Home, Plezia had three goals and an assist. Williamsville South (4-1) faces rival Williamsville East (3-0) on Wednesday.

Alexandra Hultberg, midfielder, 12, Frewsburg: Two-time All-WNY second-teamer, and the reigning CCAA Central Offensive Player of the Year had 51 points, 19 goals, and 13 assists as a junior in leading the team to the Class C title. In the early going, she’s fourth in points (18) in the section and second in assists (six). 

Brooke Butler, defense, 11, Ellicottville: The reigning All-State sixth-team selection in Class D, had a sophomore in which she was second on the team in points (28), second in goals (11) and assists (six). With two of the team's top players having graduated, she'll have more responsibility this season.

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Sports Reporter

Born and raised in Boston, MA. My experience includes The Boston Globe, The Arizona Republic, The Athletic, The Tennessean, Bleacher Report and NBC Sports Northwest. Open to suggestions and connections: Cmurray@buffnews.com

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“Word of mouth has gotten around that this program is on the rise,” said quarterback Aaron Jentz, one of those seniors. “Just the atmosphere here is different than anywhere else you’d play football at. Obviously, other high schools have great teams and coaches. The players here, you want to play football here. You got guys to talk to, who will help you with school, make you better as a player, and have your best interest. Nobody is playing for themselves.”

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