Congratulations to Hannah Esslie ’22 of Cairo, whose soccer prowess was recently featured in the Register-Star newspaper and online. Hannah played on the varsity girls soccer team this year, contributing to a run to the Section 2 Quarterfinals and the best season in DS girls soccer history. Hannah’s play earned her 2nd Team CHVL All-Star in her first year of varsity soccer.
From the Register Star, 12/14/2016
By Justin Porreca
To make a varsity-level team is a real accomplishment. Battling through tryouts, vying for positions with friends and fellow classmates, willing yourself to another level of exertion. Athletes battle each season for that coveted spot, however, it’s an anomaly when a seventh grader steals the show and makes the varsity soccer team.
She’s the seventh-grader you’ve never heard of, but you wished you did. Twelve year old Hannah Esslie lives locally with her parents in Cairo, though she doesn’t attend Cairo-Durham middle school, but Doane Stuart in Rensselaer. For the Lady Thunderchickens she stars at left midfielder, accomplishing a feat this season that just adds to her growing aura.
Hannah’s journey to varsity success started in the final weeks of her sixth grade year.
Ambitious, Hannah approached girls soccer coach Patricia Light in June about the requirements to participate in tryouts in August and earn a spot on the team.
“I had seen her in middle school and gym class and knew she had the skills,” Light said. “She would play every day at recesss with other students.”
Hannah continued to play and continued to fine tune her skillset during the summer, doing whatever was necessary to improve her game and earn that coveted roster spot.
The youngster made the team, not only earning a roster spot, but a starting position.
“When I made the team I was nervous about the size difference,” Hannah explained. “I was worried I would be absolutely clobbered every game. I didn’t know what to expect from the other players who each might be playing on advanced club teams.”
Despite Hannah being wrought with nerves, her parents were excited by the news.
“We were surprised and excited to hear that Hannah had been chosen to play for the varsity team,” the Esslies said. “Hannah performed so well that she ended up being a starting midfielder for the team.”
Perched at left midfielder, Hannah moved around from time to time, diversifying herself to other positions on the field. One thing remained constant with the seventh grader, she started every game during the season. It’s an uncanny feat for an underclassman to start, let alone start an entire season. However, it’s especially astonishing for a seventh grader to anchor down a midfielder position, which is heavily relied on offensively and defensively.
In her first season, Hannah scored two goals for the Thunderchickens, and also won her first sectional game.
“The older students were impressed with her skills and determination,” Light said. “Hannah also would help teach skills to other players. They accepted her and the team relied on her to help bring the ball up the field and they had confidence in her and passed the ball to her for this purpose.”
It was a successful first of six seasons for Hannah.
Due to her play on the pitch, she earned a second-team Central Hudson Valley League selection.
“Going into the season I never thought about making the All-Star team,” she said. “When my coach told me, I was excited and happy I had made the team. I was almost shocked.”
Just like when she made the soccer team, her parents were equally delighted by the All-Star news.
“We are extremely proud of Hannah for her hard work and effort during the varsity season,” they said. “She has worked very had to excel at soccer and achieve her goals and we’re pleased to see her efforts recognized by the coaches, whose teams played against her throughout the season.”
Despite the high school season being over, the soccer season is just kicking into high gear for Hannah.
In January, she will be working with the Eastern New York U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development team.
In August, she attended the Colonie tryouts and battled with elite players from around the area to have the opportunity to earn a spot with the program. Girls selected to move on to the second round of tryouts were posted on the Eastern NY ODP website.
It was there Hannah found out she moved on to round two.
In September, once again at Colonie, she battled with the girls who advanced to the second round for an opportunity to attend the third tryout in LaGrangeville at the end of the month.
Once again, Hannah moved on.
In LaGrangeville, she excelled one final time to earn her spot on the Eastern NY ODP team.
“Making the Olympic Development team is a significant accomplishment and we are extremely proud of Hannah,” the Esslies said. “She has worked very hard to excel at soccer and we are excited she was chosen to compete.”
Hannah’s love for the game of soccer and competitive thirst, which started when she was four years old after being signed up to play by her parents to play a sport and to be around other kids has enabled her to pave a path of better soccer opportunities.
Hannah also plays on an American Youth Soccer Organization tournament team in Saugerties and a premiere team in Albany.
With five years left at the varsity level and multiple out of school outlets for Hannah to improve, there’s hope she develops into an elite, all-around player.
“Going forward Hannah is working on developing a stronger kick and also using her left foot more,” Light said. “I would like to see her become more of a scoring threat and also maybe being able to take corner kicks.”
One aspect Hannah doesn’t have to master is her footwork, which is something she’s quite fond of.
“I like footwork, controlling the ball and juggling,” she said. “I always want to find a new move to do.”
One thing she would like to work on with her team is communication and passing, and the intricacy of the game she finds intriguing.
Light believes with her uncanny determination and confidence, combined with her desire to improve her game outside of school, there’s plenty of potential for success revolving around the young midfielder.
“When I was at the All-Star banquet I saw all the different awards you can achieve,” Hannah said. “Next year I hope to make first-team All-Stars and the All-Section Class D team. Eventually, I would like to break records and make first-team Section II All-Stars.”