By RICK PETERSON
Narrowing down candidates for the TopSports.news Shawnee County Best of the Best women's soccer list was a tough chore.
Picking the Top 25 was even tougher, but in the end former Shawnee Heights and Washburn University star Jessica Mainz got the nod as No. 1 at the top of a a talent-heavy group of athletes.
Mainz scored 97 goals and dished out 44 assists for Shawnee Heights, helping lead the T-Birds to a state team championship in 2004 and a runner-up finish in '05, before going on to become an All-American and a two-time MIAA player of the year while setting 14 career records and 15 single-season records.
Also a basketball standout for WU, Mainz was the first Washburn soccer player to be inducted into the school's Hall of Fame.
Another former T-Bird, Leea Murphy, sits No. 2 on the Top 25 after starring for Heights and helping North Carolina win the '03 NCAA national championship, while perennial city, Centennial League and Class 6A state power Washburn Rural earned the next five positions and earned 11 spots overall, led by No. 3 Kaira Houser, No. 4 Darby Hirsch and No. 5 Kelly Lemke.
More than 4,200 votes were cast in Readers Choice Awards balloting, with two athletes receiving more than 1,400 votes and five receiving more than 100 votes.
Lemke ended up No. 1 in the Readers Choice voting with nearly 1,900 votes while Washburn Rural alum Kate Schroeder was No. 2 and former Seaman standout Chelsea Hopkins third.
Here's a look at the Top 25 and Readers Choice Awards:
TSN TOP 25 BEST OF THE BEST WOMEN'S SOCCER PLAYERS
1. Jessica Mainz (Shawnee Heights) -- After leading Shawnee Heights to a Class 5A-1A state title in 2004 and a second-place finish in '05, Mainz went on to earn All-America honors at Washburn University, setting 14 career records and 15 single-season records while earning All-MIAA honors four times and being named the MIAA Most Valuable Player twice. Mainz was also a basketball standout for WU, being named the MIAA Defensive Player of the Year twice.
2. Leaa Murphy (Shawnee Heights) -- Murphy was a star in soccer and track and field for Shawnee Heights and went on to help North Carolina win the NCAA national championship in 2003. Murphy was a four-year letter-winner for the T-Birds in soccer, earning All-City and All-Centennial League honors three seasons, and was a state champion in track as a sprinter.
3. Kaira Houser (Washburn Rural) -- Houser finished her high school career No. 1 on Washburn Rural's career list with 76 goals and ended up second with 48 assists. Houser scored 30 goals as a senior to help lead the Junior Blues to a second-place 6A finish, earning All-City, All-Centennial League and All-6A honors before going on to play collegiately at Creighton.
4. Darby Hirsch (Washburn Rural) -- Hirsch scored 51 career goals for Washburn Rural to rank No. 2 on the Junior Blues' career list and is Rural's career leader with 58 assists. Hirsch, also a state placer in tennis for Rural, went on to become an multi-time All-MIAA honoree at Fort Hays State while earning Academic All-America honors in '19.
5. Kelly Lemke (Washburn Rural) -- A four-year starter at goalkeeper for Washburn Rural, Lemke ended her career as the state record-holder with 52 shutouts while earning All-City, All-Centennial League and All-6A honors. Lemke began her college career at Nebraska-Omaha and is currently playing at Carnegie Mellon.
6. Macy Decker (Washburn Rural) -- Decker earned All-City, All-Centennial League and All-6A honors for the Junior Blues while helping lead Rural to four straight 6A semifinal berths. Decker scored 41 goals and had 44 assists at Rural before going on to play at Fort Hays State University.
7. Kate Schroeder (Washburn Rural) -- Schroeder scored 36 goals and had 43 assists for Washburn Rural, earning All-City, All-Centennial League and All-6A recognition before embarking on her college career at Missouri State.
8. Kaney Tyler (Seaman) -- Tyler was a star goalkeeper for Seaman and Missouri Southern, earning the MIAA Most Valuable Player award and being a multi-year all-conference honoree. Tyler ended her college career as Southern's career leader with 28 shutouts and 335 saves.
9. Carly Bachelor (Washburn Rural) -- A three-sport All-Stater at Washburn Rural, Bachelor was named the Centennial League soccer player of the year in 2019 while also earning All-City and All-6A honors. Bachelor helped Rural finish second in 6A in '18 and '19. Bachelor is currently playing basketball at Creighton.
10. Melanie Hall (Washburn Rural) -- Hall scored 49 goals in her career for Washburn Rural and went on to star at Central Missouri, earning MIAA player of the year honors, scoring 19 goals in a season and ending her career tied for second with 38 career goals.
11. Jacki Martinek (Hayden) -- Martinek was part of three Hayden teams that captured 4A-1A state championships (2012, '13 and '15) before going on to play college soccer for Emporia State.
12. Ruth Fiander (Topeka High) -- Fiander scored 73 goals and registered 39 assists for Topeka High while twice earning All-City recognition. Fiander went on to play Division I soccer at the University of Kansas City. Fiander was also High's football place-kicker in high school.
13. Addie Barry (Hayden) -- Barry played major roles for Hayden teams that won 4A-1A state titles in 2012 and '13 and posted a runner-up state finish in '14. Barry went on to play volleyball for Kansas.
14. Braydi Frederick (Washburn Rural) -- Frederick scored 50 goals in her career for Washburn Rural before going on to play college soccer for John Brown University.
15. Amber Hearrell (Topeka West) -- Hearrell was part of Topeka West's 2001 state championship team that is enshrined in the West hall of fame. Hearrell went on to play at Emporia State, earning All-MIAA recognition in multiple seasons.
16. Danielle Blevins (Topeka West) -- Blevins starred at Topeka West and Johnson County Community College, recording eight goals and four assists in a game, before playing at Colorado State.
17. Chelsea Hopkins (Seaman) -- Hopkins starred at Seaman before going on to play Division I soccer at Arkansas State from 2005-08.
18. Avery Munns (Washburn Rural) -- Munns was named the Centennial League player of the year for Washburn Rural as a senior, was a two-time All-City selection and earned All-6A honors, finishing her career with 46 goals.
19. Mallory Diederich (Seaman) -- Diederich earned All-City, All-Centennial League and All-5A recognition for Seaman before going on to earn All-MIAA recognition at Fort Hays State.
20. Danielle Sicard (Topeka High) -- Sicard earned All-City, All-Centennial League and All-6A honors for Topeka High before going on become a multi-time All-MIAA honoree at Washburn University.
21. Lauren Dietrick (Topeka High) -- Dietrick scored 59 goals as a four-year starter for Topeka High, twice earning All-City honors and receiving All-6A honorable mention.
22. Claire Meyers (Washburn Rural) -- Meyers recorded 36 goals and 30 assists during her career at Washburn Rural, earning All-City honors twice as well as All-6A recognition. Meyers went on to play at Missouri Western, earning All-MIAA recognition.
23. Jackie Wolfe (Topeka West) -- Wolfe was a prolific scorer for outstanding teams at Topeka West before going on to Missouri.
24. Brynn Fitzgibbons (Washburn Rural) -- Fitzbiggons was a starter on three Washburn Rural teams that advanced to the 6A semifinals, including runner-up finishes in 2018 and '19. Rural finished third this past season and Fitzgibbons earned All-City, All-Centennial League and All-6A honors.
25. Grayson Seevers (Seaman) -- Seevers was a multi-year standout for Seaman before going on to play collegiately at Northwest Missouri.
READERS CHOICE AWARDS
1. Kelly Lemke -- No. 5 in TSN Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).
2. Kate Schroeder -- No. 7 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).
3. Chelsea Hopkins -- No. 17 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).
4. Avery Munns -- No. 18 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).
5. Grayson Seevers -- No. 25 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).
6. Jessica Mainz -- No. 1 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).
7. Hannah Woolery -- The Cair Paravel Latin product is currently an Emporia State standout.
8. (tie) Kaira Houser -- No. 3 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).
8. (tie) Ruth Fiander -- No. 12 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).
10. Brynn Fitzgibbons -- No. 24 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).
Next up: Men's soccer Top 25 Best of the Best and Readers Choice Awards.