Sinclaire Miramontez didn’t always have a defender’s mind-set.
It wasn’t until her high school career at Shawnee Mission West that she began appreciating the importance of a steadfast backline and began taking pleasure in watching opponents’ attacks sputter.
Miramontez has become one of the best defenders in the region, and is The Star’s All-Metro girls soccer player of the year.
“When I did develop that mind-set, my favorite thing was to stop players from doing the one thing they were working towards, and that was scoring,” she said. “I don’t like anyone getting around me. I really take it personally.”
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Miramontez, a senior, was a shutdown defender for this year’s SM West team that went undefeated (20-0-1), won a Kansas Class 6A state championship and tallied 14 shutouts.
In addition to being named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American player, Miramontez also collected Kansas Player of the Year honors.
And although she adopted the defensive brick-wall mentality, Miramontez also produced offensively. She assisted on three goals and scored six of her own, including the game-winner in the state semifinal game against Manhattan.
But it was still her defensive intensity that turned her into a feared player. That desire to thwart every opponent’s touch on the ball will carry onto the University of Nebraska, where Miramontez will continue her soccer career and be a teammate with her sister, Sydney.
“It’s just the thrill of stopping people,” she said. “There’s something about the adrenaline. I take a lot of pleasure in stopping someone so close to scoring a goal, and then turning it around and turning it into an attack for us.”
The Star’s All-Metro girls soccer team
Hallie Klanke, St. Thomas Aquinas, freshman. As a freshman, Klanke scored 13 goals and assisted on 14 others. Nine of her goals were game-winners, as St. Thomas Aquinas marched to a Kansas Class 5A state title. Klanke recently committed to play soccer at North Carolina.
Alyssa Seitzer, St. Teresa’s Academy, senior. The first player in school history to start in four state championship games, Seitzer scored 17 goals and added 15 assists. After the Stars won the Missouri Class 4 state title, she was named the class player of the year. She signed with Saint Louis.
Hannah Miller, Shawnee Mission West, senior. With 21 goals and 10 assists, Miller frequently drew double-teams this year. She still scored three game-winning goals in the last minute or overtime, and as a captain, helped lead SM West to a Kansas Class 6A state title and undefeated season.
Rilynne Like, Blue Valley Southwest, senior. A three-time All-State choice and the Eastern Kansas League forward of the year, Like scored 18 goals and had seven assists this season. She will play basketball for UMKC next season.
Cathy Rometti, Bishop Miege, senior. Rometti scored 11 goals and had nine assists out of a defensive midfielder position, but she also was instrumental for Miege’s defense, which gave up only nine goals all season. She helped lead Miege to its first Kansas state title (Class 4-1A) since 2003.
Kayla Deaver, Lee’s Summit, sophomore. The Suburban Gold Conference offensive player of the year scored 22 goals and added 16 assists as a winger, helping Lee’s Summit reach the Missouri Class 4 semifinals for the second straight year. She has committed to Memphis.
Caroline Peterson, Pembroke Hill, freshman. The Missouri Class 2 offensive player of the year scored 34 goals from the midfield and contributed 10 assists for the Raiders, who placed second in the state, the best showing in school history. She has committed to Auburn.
Sinclaire Miramontez, Shawnee Mission West, senior. On SM West’s way to a 20-0-1 season, Miramontez was a concrete wall of a defender, helping her team to a .43 goals-against average and 14 shutouts. She also added six goals and three assists and was named a NSCAA All-American and Kansas Player of the Year.
Jenna Winebrenner, Park Hill, junior. A true two-way player, Winebrenner is a center back who played a key role in the team posting 23 shutouts this season. And she still contributed 13 goals and 10 assists to the offense. Winebrenner has committed to Notre Dame.
Addisyn Merrick, Lee’s Summit North, senior. The accolades poured in for Merrick, who was named the Suburban Gold Conference defender of the year for the third time and the Missouri Class 4 defender of the year for a second straight season. She scored four goals from the back line and will attend Kansas.
Afton Fennewald, Notre Dame de Sion, sophomore. The Missouri Class 3 goalkeeper of the year did not allow a goal in the postseason, leading the Storm to the state title. She posted 18 shutouts in 25 matches and made four saves in the state final, resulting in a 1-0 victory.