Oak Mountain’s Kierson McDonald named 2023 Player of the Year

Published 5:13 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

Shelby County teams boasted supercharged offenses in 2023, and the talent was spread across the board.

We had two perennial Golden Boot contenders take one final bow in 2022 co-Player of the Year Norah Roller from Indian Springs and Montevallo’s Leila Mendonca and a move to CDM for Tatum Ahlemeyer that helped Spain Park flourish and grow the star power of the other half of the 2022 Player of the Year duo.

We also saw a lethal one-two punch from county goal-leader Taylor Leib and breakout senior Abigail Hoaglund that helped Briarwood Christian to their first 6A Final Four and the birth of a future star in Westminster OM’s freshman phenom Vale Richie.

While each of these players could be named the best in the region in any other year, one name rose above the rest: Kierson McDonald, who represents Oak Mountain as the 2023 Shelby County Player of the Year for girls soccer.

She is already one of the most decorated players in the state: a Gatorade Player of the Year Finalist, Kiwanis Club Player of the Year, co-captain of the All-Metro First Team and member of the All-State First Team, All-7A and All-County First Team. And that’s just in 2023.

Her play on the field shows why she earned this award and many others. In her senior year, she carried on her momentum from 2022, scoring 31 goals and racking up 17 assists while wearing the Oak Mountain armband. She finished second among All-County eligible players in goals behind Taylor Leib’s 36 and third in assists behind leader Abigail Hoaglund with 21.

She was the heart and soul of an Eagles eleven that only lost four times all season, all of them against playoff teams, and one of which was against Spain Park, and they avenged that loss in the quarterfinals to reach the Final Four in Huntsville.

McDonald led an offense that focused on generating pressure on the opposing goal by moving forward and creating chances in bunches to lead to goals. Her play in the midfield was key to their tactical success, and she regularly pressed forward with runs to either create her own chances or set up her teammates.

The Eagles may have fallen short in the Final Four against eventual champion Sparkman, but McDonald gave the Senators defense fits with nine shots in the semifinal. This was business as usual for the Eagles captain, as she played a crucial role in wins over perennial powerhouses Bob Jones, Montgomery Academy and Homewood.

Her game-changing ability that shaped Oak Mountain’s offense combined with her high stats and Oak Mountain’s strong season in a tough 7A region that ended with a Final Four berth are why McDonald is the Player of the Year.

McDonald is far from done impacting soccer in Alabama. She jumped straight into a USL W-League season with Birmingham Legion WFC and recently played in the first women’s soccer game at Protective Stadium, and this coming fall, she’ll take her talents to Tuscaloosa and lace up her boots for the Alabama Crimson Tide, fresh off a Final Four berth of their own in 2022.

McDonald’s legacy at Oak Mountain will be remembered for years to come, and after a dominant high school career, she can finally add the Shelby County Player of the Year award to her trophy shelf.