One helped her squad get back into the discussion among the state’s top programs, while the other helped his team regain its title as the state’s premiere prep soccer program on the boys side.
After leading both of their squads to Lafayette and the Division I state championship matches, Northshore High’s Britney Bertram and St. Paul’s Conner Walmsley were named the 2018-2019 St. Tammany Farmer Parish Soccer Players of the Year.
Despite finishing third in the state’s toughest girls soccer district (4-I), Bertram helped the No 8 Panthers go on a magical postseason run that saw them upset top-seeded Byrd and No. 5 Acadiana on the road on its way to the state championship match. Finishing 18-4-2 on the season, the Panthers fell 2-1 to rival St. Scholastica in the state championship.
“She had a dominant senior season,” Northshore coach and Britney’s father Brian Bertram said. “She was in the midfield at the beginning of the year because that is where she normally plays. But, as we started moving forward, we inched her up ever closer to the front of our attack. As a result of that, she generated a lot of goals and opportunities for goal. She was the engine that made our offensive attack go.”
A signee with the University of Stetson, Bertram finished the 2018-2019 campaign with 36 goals and 20 assists.
“Britney is a smart and mature soccer player,” Brian Bertram said. “She was the one on the field that motivated our team and got us going. She took that responsibility head-on and ran with it. To her credit, she continued to get better at that as the season progressed. That’s what good players do.
“She takes stuff from all the coaching she has had throughout her career and uses it. She wants to get better at the game every time she hits the field. I may be her dad, but in my humble opinion I think she is the best player to ever come through Northshore High School.”
On the other side of the parish, Walmsley spearheaded the effort to help St. Paul’s once again climb to the top of the Division I boys soccer scene. Unbeaten against in-state opponents on the season, the Wolves finished 25-1-4 on the year, defeating Jesuit 3-0 in the state championship match. St. Paul’s finished as the top-ranked team prep squad in the country, according to the website MaxPreps for boys soccer teams that play soccer in the winter.
One of two senior captains on the 2018-2019 squad, Walmsley finished with 12 goals and a team-high 13 assists on the season for the Wolves. His 12-goal campaign was highlighted by a hat trick in a 4-0 win over district rival Mandeville in the state playoffs.
“Conner had a great senior season,” Wolves coach Sean Moser said. “Coming into the season I honestly wasn’t exactly sure where I was going to play him because he is so good at so many different positions. Conner is one of the best kids I have ever coached on the ball, so we moved him around a lot until we found a position to settle on. As soon as we decided where Conner went, everything else for us this season pretty much fell into place.”
While he wasn’t the leading scorer for St. Paul’s this season, Moser said one of the best things about his senior captain is that he is just as happy to assist in a goal as putting one on the scoreboard himself.
“Conner actually gets frustrated in practice when he is missing his shots on goals,” Moser said. “He puts a lot of pressure on himself to be the go-to player.
“But, let’s remember heading into this season our opponents thought, 'If we shut down Conner, we will win.' That didn’t happen. Conner did an outstanding job of distributing the ball to his teammates and finding them for open goals. I never doubted what I was going to get out of Conner Walmsley every time we had a match. He never disappointed, and he leaves a big hole for us to have to fill if we are to continue our success in 2019-2020.”