MANCHESTER >> Burr and Burton Academy sophomore soccer star Hannah Pinkus earned a rare honor, recently chosen as part of the top 44 girls players in the Northeast by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
Pinkus is one of only three players selected from Vermont, joining the state's all-time scoring leader in Proctor striker Abby McKearin and Champlain Valley Union defender Anne Keen.
Pinkus, who led the Bulldogs with 12 goals this season, also was one of only four sophomores chosen.
"It's quite an honor as a sophomore. She represents herself and it shows all the work she's put into soccer," said BBA coach Suzanne Mears, who just finished her second season leading the Bulldogs.
Marble Valley League coaches nominate players for all-league and then a handful of names are brought to the all-state meeting.
"[Rutland coach] Lori [McClallen] brought our state nominees to the meeting and from those players, only a handful are nominated for a regional spot," Mears said. "It shows what the rest of the state thinks about Hannah and her play."
As the Bulldogs sailed through the Division I playoffs, Mears said she knew Pinkus was picked, but kept it a secret until after the final.
"I knew Hannah was nominated before the season ended, but I didn't tell her until after the championship game," Mears said. The BBA girls lost to CVU in the Division I final, 2-1, on Oct. 31. "It's a six-week process to find out who is chosen."
Mears waited nearly a month and didn't hear anything about the award. Then, the Rutland Herald had written a story about McKearin and when Mears did some research, she found that Pinkus had gotten it.
"She's strong, physical and a savvy athlete," said BBA coach Suzanne Mears about Pinkus in the Banner XI. "She's so strong with her feet and in the air, with purpose - no one [else] could do that. She sees the pass and lanes and she executes from five to 40 yards, between two or three defenders into the net. It's just who she is as a player, competitive and skilled."
In the six New England states, 44 players were honored, including 15 each from Massachusetts and from Connecticut. The last 14 are split between Vermont (three), New Hampshire (four), Rhode Island (five) and Maine (two). Each state gets one choice as an All-American and that went to McKearin for Vermont.
Pinkus receives a plaque, as does the school. Mears said she was pretty sure no one else from Burr and Burton Academy had received this honor before.
The soccer pedigree is strong in the Pinkus family. Hannah's father Brenton was born in South Africa and came to the United States after being recruited to play college soccer. After a year, he was picked up by Crystal Palace, a first division team in the Premier League in England but a foot injury ended his professional career.
These days, he still does a lot of work with the Vermont Voltage PDL team, based in St. Albans and Manchester.
In January 2014, Pinkus was chosen for a U-14 Olympic Development Program training camp spot. Hannah — and classmate Georgia Lord — now play for the FC Stars, an elite travel team in Massachusetts — giving them a leg up and see the best competition the region has to offer.
"It's such an honor for her and to get the recognition is amazing," Mears said. "She puts a lot of hours and sacrifices a lot, it feels good to see it paying off. She's a phenomenal player and coming into my first year, I had heard a lot of things, but seeing it really took my breath away. I thought, 'I get to coach these guys for four years.'"