OAKLAND — Emily Pysell was solid as a rock defensively for Southern in 2019, and she capped off her junior season with winning the Cumberland Times-News Girls Soccer Defensive Player of the Year as voted on by area head coaches.

Pysell and Reagan Miller (see separate story) will receive their awards at the 72nd Dapper Dan Sports Award Banquet, which will be held Feb. 23, 4 p.m., at the Ali Ghan Shrine Club.

Pysell, listed as a midfielder in Southern’s stat sheet, is more of a link between the defense and the midfield for the Rams.

“Emily has been a three-year starter for the Lady Rams and is an intricate part of our defense and midfield,” said head coach Larry Smith. “She is one of the true leaders of our team.”

Southern (6-8-1) played in a lot of tight games in 2019, with four of its eight losses coming by one goal — all 1-0 games — against three of the area’s best teams, Mountain Ridge, Bishop Walsh and Allegany twice.

Pysell scored one goal on the year, an insurance tally for the Rams’ first win of the season against Garrett County rival Northern. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, however, as Pysell had the second-most shot attempts (18) and shots on target (12) of any player on the team.

She joins good company as the fifth Southern player to win Defensive Player of the Year and first since Claire Wilkinson won it in 2010. Prior to that, a Southern player won the award four of the first five times it was handed out. Becky Martin won the inaugural award in 1998, Miriam Sincell went back-to-back in 2000 and 2001, and Laura Bonser won it in 2002.

This year is also the first time the defensive honor has been shared since 2007 when Mountain Ridge’s Jenna Delaney and Allegany’s Christina Russo split the award.

Pysell returns to a Southern team that loses five players to graduation, all midfielders.

For Dapper Dan tickets, call the Sports Shoppe at 301-722-5490.

Kyle Bennett is a sports reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KyleBennettCTN.

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