Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pleasant Surprise

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pleasant Surprise

Article excerpt

No one was telling Clare Shea anything, and that meant she knew something was going on.

"My parents were acting all sketchy, and I think I asked my mom to go somewhere and she said I couldn't go," said Shea, a senior at Northern Highlands. "But they and [Highlanders soccer coach Tara] Madigan knew."

What Madigan and the Sheas knew was that the National Soccer Coaches Association of America had named Clare its girls player of the year. Shea couldn't leave the house because she was about to get the phone call from the national chair of the organization with the news.

"I kind of didn't believe it then either, because his name was John Mayer, so I was sure I was getting pranked," said Clare.

It is true. Clare was recognized after a senior season in which she scored a team-high 17 goals and had six assists, giving her 80 goals and 23 assists in her career.

Shea was also a part of a team that won three straight league, Bergen County and Group 3 championships. They have not lost a game in that time.

"I never would have imagined winning something like this," said Clare. "Even now, it's pretty unbelievable being the one person in the nation chosen, because there are so many talented players. I kind of don't know what made me stand out for them."

"Clare was the type of player who made everyone around her better," said Madigan, who was named the Regional Coach of the Year by the national association. "She made me a better coach, and she deserves every kind of award and recognition she gets."

Clare and Madigan will be honored at an All-America luncheon on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Clare has committed to West Point to continue her soccer career, and even though the calendar says winter, she still is training with her club team ... and learning to trust her parents when they tell her she needs to stay home.

"It still kind of hasn't hit me," said Clare. "When people say [I'm national player of the year], I'm still like, 'What?' "

ST. JOE'S HEADS OUT: First-year St. Joseph football coach Augie Hoffmann announced the Green Knights' 2014 schedule last week. In a way, he also announced the team's 2015 schedule. …

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