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HS girls soccer: Stackel worthy pick as All-North Frontier League MVP

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COPENHAGEN — The ultimate result of this past soccer season conjured up a variety of emotions for Claire Stackel.

The sophomore standout from Copenhagen engineered another memorable soccer season at midfield by finishing as not only the top scorer in the Frontier League, but in all of Section 3 as well.

Much like last year, the conclusion of the Golden Knights was again a disappointing one for Stackel, a midfielder, and her teammates.

Copenhagen got another crack at state power Poland, this time in the section’s Class D final, but were soundly beaten 4-2.

“It’s bittersweet,” Claire Stackel said. “It’s just like last year losing to Poland. Even though you can say we had a better season than last year, but I think it was a worse feeling because we lost to Poland for the second time in a row.”

At least the Golden Knights advanced further this year. They were eliminated in the semifinals by Poland in 2012.

For her efforts and dominant level of play, Stackel has been selected as the Times All-North Most Valuable Player from the Frontier League. She finished as Section 3’s leader in goals (48), assists (28) and points (124). She also set single-season school records in each of these categories.

What makes these statistics even more impressive, is she generated these numbers while starting as a central-midfielder.

“I thought she really stepped up, she had a breakout season,” Knights coach Katherine Stackel said. “Especially with the position that she plays at central-mid.”

Of course, the younger Stackel has other responsibilities in the midfield besides generating goals and points.

“That’s what I like to play and that’s what I grew up playing,” said Claire Stackel, who garnered All-State and Section 3 All-Star honors. “Because you’re in control of everything and I like making that perfect pass. ... But also, you’re distributing the ball, building the offense, but also helping out on defense.”

Playing soccer year round, Claire Stackel clearly elevated her game during the scholastic season.

“But I think I am more aware of what’s going on this year,” said Claire Stackel, who scored 18 goals and registered 11 assists as a freshman. “I’m able to figure out my surroundings first and quickly, so I know the next pass before I get the ball.”

Stackel generated at least a point in all but one game when she was held scoreless — but she and her teammates persevered for a 2-1 Class D semifinal victory over Remsen.

Things looked bleak early on in the sectional final against Poland — but Stackel scored twice later in the first half — including one on a sharp header — to pull Copenhagen into a 2-2 tie at halftime. The Tornadoes then pulled away in the final 40 minutes.

“I felt those two goals were her best of the season,” Katherine Stackel said. “She scored a lot of big goals, but those were the biggest as we were down 2-0 and to score both of those off restarts against a seasoned Poland team.”

“We just didn’t come to play,” Claire Stackel said. “And our momentum was there in the second half, but we didn’t follow through and score.”

Although she led her team offensively, she wasn’t the only threat as fellow sophomore Emma Roberts scored 18 goals and assisted on 22 others for 58 points to finish second in the Frontier League in scoring.

“I think our team has grown since last year possession wise,” Claire Stackel said. “We’re still a young team, but we have good experience.”

Stackel didn’t have much time to brood on the team’s loss in the Section 3 final — she continued to play soccer.

She’s playing this weekend with her Syracuse Development Academy in a tournament in North Carolina. The event coincides with the NCAA Division I women’s soccer final four in Cary, N.C., with the championship game scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday.

“I’m really looking forward to that — we’re going to see the best teams in the country,” Claire Stackel said of the NCAA tournament.

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