Girls Soccer: Alter continues dominance over area D-II teams

The Alter Knights girls soccer program has been ranked No. 1 for 30 straight weeks in the area coaches poll. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Rick Wassum

Credit: Rick Wassum

Knights have topped Miami Valley Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll since 2016

KETTERING – As administrator for the local and state soccer poll, Alter High School assistant coach Sean Humenansky noticed a trend as he assembled the weekly rankings. Just how long have the Knights topped the Division II local girls poll, he wondered.

Thirty weeks, to be precise. Alter took over the No. 1 spot in the Miami Valley Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association on Sept. 30, 2016, and has yet to relinquish it. Alter can make it 31 straight weeks – and claim its fifth straight poll title – if it top this week’s final poll. There are seven polls released during the regular season.

“We don’t really pay attention to streaks,” Alter coach Javier Iriart said. “We pay attention to where we stand in the local poll, but as far as how long we’ve been there it wasn’t something we considered until Sean thought how long as has it been? It turns out it was a pretty long time.”

Carroll was the last team to hold the No. 1 spot on Sept. 23, 2016. The Patriots edged the Knights 56-53 in poll voting.

Since Alter’s run at the top there have been six teams ranked No. 2. Tippecanoe has spent 13 weeks at No. 2, followed by Bellbrook (7), Monroe (7), Carroll (3), Anna (1) and Fenwick (1). Twice this season Alter and Tipp have tied for the No. 1 ranking in the first and third polls.

Alter (10-1-3 overall and 4-0-1 in the Girls Greater Catholic League Co-Ed) closes out the regular season with Cincinnati McNicholas (2-9-2) on Wednesday. The Knights have clinched at least a share of their fifth straight GGCL titles (three GGCL North Division titles and two GGCL Co-Ed titles) and can win it outright win a win Wednesday.

Seniors Lauren Miller, Kassidy Roshong, Julie Ruffolo and Nora Tyra lead another talented group. Miller moved from midfield to the back line and provided stability on defense. Roshong, a West Virginia University commit, has been stellar in goal. Ruffolo is the “engine in the midfield.” Tyra, after getting sporadic minutes on varsity last season, has taken over the scorer’s role.

“We’ve had a lot of players step up into some key roles that I think will pay dividends in the upcoming weeks,” Iriart said. “I think this team has the potential just as good as last year’s team.”

Alter opens defense of its D-II state championship on Oct. 24. Alter, voted the No. 1 seed in the D-II Central bracket, awaits the winner of No. 8 Chaminade Julienne and No. 9 Eaton. Those two teams play Oct. 20.

Last season’s state title was Alter’s second (2016) to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes (1998, 2001).

“When we won our first title in 2016, I think that was a real culture change for us,” said Iriart, 137-38-23 in his 10th season at Alter. "We started to see the players really buy into the long-term plan for the team. As coaches we made a concerted effort to explain not just what we’re doing but why we’re doing it. We started empowering the players to buy into it as well.

“We have such a selfless team where the players are looking for the most open player to score. … For the past four or five years we’ve had teams that really buy into that mentality.”

Also in the D-II tournament, Cincinnati Summit Country Day (10-1-3) earned the top seed in the South bracket and Tippecanoe (12-0-2) was No. 1 in the North bracket.

“This year, more than last year, there’s a lot of parity amongst the teams whether it’s Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo. It’s very even and that’s what makes this year interesting,” Iriart said.

Also in the girls tournament draws held Sunday, Centerville was voted the No. 1 seed in the Division I North bracket. Beavercreek was No. 2. Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame was No. 1 in the South bracket.

Waynesville earned the No. 1 seed in the D-III North bracket, while Anna was No. 2. Cincinnati Mariemont was the No. 1 seed in the South bracket.

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