Daily photo by Brennen Smith|
Austin High’s Jake Mendenhall was a major force for in the North’s 5-1 victory over the South in the 11th annual All-Star Sports Week soccer game in Huntsville on Tuesday. Mendenhall, a rising senior for the Black Bears, scored one goal and assisted on another in the second half. Also contributing big for the North squad was Decatur High defender Michael Alfano. He played the entire first half, which didn’t see a South goal. The all-time series is tied 3-3-1.
Local stars shine in North win
Mendenhall, Alfano contribute in prep all-star soccer victory
By Brooke Milam
HUNTSVILLE — Before playing for rival high schools, Decatur High’s Michael Alfano and Austin’s Jake Mendenhall were teammates. And they were a pretty successful combination.
“We’ve known each other a long time,” Mendenhall said. “We played together on the Decatur Revolution when we were like 10 or 11, and we were like state champs I don’t know how many times.”
Selected among the state’s top rising seniors to compete in the 11th annual All-Star Sports Week, Alfano and Mendenhall were again a winning combination when they suited up to help the North squad to a 5-1 win over the South at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park on Tuesday.
Alfano had a big first half, and Mendenhall thrived after halftime as the North evened the all-time series to 3-3-1 with the convincing win.
Mendenhall scored one goal and assisted another in the second half. Alfano provided an anchor on defense as the North shut out the South in the first half.
“People sometimes expect the South to be weaker in soccer, but they’ve got a lot of really good players that will be playing college soccer next year,” Mendenhall said. “When you take the best players from every school, it’s anybody’s game really.”
Altamont’s Henry Rouse was named the North squad’s most valuable player, and Montgomery Catholic’s Colin Newmeyer was named most valuable player for the South.
Alfano played the entire first half, while Mendenhall was sidelined before the break after being kneed in the leg.
The North took control early when Grissom’s Paul Willoughby bumped in the first goal of the game 12:20 before halftime on an assist by Arab’s Colby Flack.
The North led 1-0 at the break before Mendenhall re-entered the game and assisted a goal by Nick Davis of Holy Spirit in the fourth minute of the second half for a 2-0 lead.
The South answered with Newmeyer’s goal five minutes later, cutting the North’s advantage to 2-1.
With 20 minutes remaining, the North increased its lead to 3-1 with a goal by Rouse.
Mendenhall’s goal came with 7:15 on a double assist by Willoughby and Oak Mountain’s Jeremiah Jones, making the score 4-1. Rouse added the North’s final goal, assisted by Davis, with less than a minute left.
Both Mendenhall and Alfano said the experience was positive and one of the most memorable aspects was getting to know other players from throughout the state.
All participants were housed in the dormitories at Alabama-Huntsville after practice Monday — Alfano roomed with Willoughby, and Mendenhall stayed with Flack, Rouse and Mountain Brook’s Patrick Dailey.
“It was fun meeting new people. Only a handful of them were people we’d played against,” Alfano said. “I was definitely impressed with the talent.”
Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!