Multi-threat Eagle is Independent’s Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year
ADDISON COUNTY — The return of the Mount Abraham Union High School boys’ soccer team to Division II prominence was the biggest local story in the sport, and unsurprisingly the Eagles are well represented on the 2015 Addison Independent Boys’ Soccer All-Star Team, led by Player of the Year Charlie Meyer.
Meyer’s all-around efforts and scoring helped Coach Mike Corey’s Mount Abe group improve from four victories in 2014 to 10 wins this fall, and four more Eagles join him as Independent all-stars.
Under first-year coach Reeves Livesay, Middlebury also enjoyed a leap forward, as the Tigers tripled their 2014 victory total to six this fall. Four athletes who played instrumental roles in lifting the team’s quality of play are honored here.
In Vergennes, Coach Kevin Hayes’ Commodores understandably regrouped after a dozen seniors graduated this spring, a situation compounded by injuries: VUHS won twice, once against Otter Valley. Two Commodores, one who also suited up for MUHS after a midseason transfer, earned berths on the Independent squad.
Former Otter Valley girls’ coach Dick Williams took over an inexperienced squad this fall and guided it to three MVL wins. A key senior central defender made the Independent squad.
Selections were made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:
CHARLIE MEYER, MOUNT ABE SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Technically the point man in a four-back defense, Meyer ranged far and wide to make an impact all over the field for the Eagles … Excellent defender who stepped into the attack and led Mount Abe with six goals … Tall, fast and skilled player whose tactical sense helped the Eagles possess the ball, typically control the center of the field, and build their offense … Dangerous in the attacking box on corner kicks and restarts … Versatile player who also played forward and midfield this fall and during his three-year varsity career and filled in at flank back during the Eagles’ 2013 title game.
Corey’s Quotes: “I call him the boss, in a sense, because you always want a guy on the field who is willing to mobilize the troops. I felt like Charlie did that … Charlie is a six-footer who can shake and bake with the best of them … He’s clearly a guy who could play anywhere on the field effectively. He’s a high-energy guy … I gave Charlie free rein to roam around the midfield … Charlie was a ball-winner. He was great at moving the ball forward. He would see people.”
OWEIN LABARR, MOUNT ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Tall, smart, talented central defender who led an Eagle defense that surrendered just 20 goals in 16 games and only four times allowed more than two goals, twice against D-I champion Rice … Adept at heading away serves into the box, distributing out of the back, defending one-on-one, and maintaining position within the team concept … Posed a threat on Eagle corner kicks and scored a goal, and also struck restarts effectively.
Corey’s Quotes: “I would look at him and go, ‘The secretary of defense.’ I really felt that was appropriate, because he was in charge of the defense … If it was in the air, he usually won it … He had as good or maybe better ability than any player I’ve coached to get out of tight situations because he’s so technical and he’s so fast … He was a great passer. He could find forwards … He’s a complete defender.”
DREW BARNICLE, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Gifted three-year varsity player whose totals of five goals and an assist from his flank midfield position probably would have been higher if not for a nagging injury … Also tallied those goals despite being the focus of opposing defenses … Has the speed and skills to take on defenders individually and the vision to set up teammates.
Livesay’s Quotes: “He’s a very dangerous player in one-versus-one situations … He drew special attention from the other teams and really opened up the space for us. He was really willing to take that role for us … Drew has great speed and also great ability … Two of his goals were highlight-reel goals.”
DUNCAN MCCABE, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Central midfielder who was possibly the Tigers’ single most indispensable player — the ball simply moved more smoothly from end to end and side to side with him on the field … Clever and skilled passer and distributor with exceptional field vision and tactical sense … Contributed five goals and an assist.
Livesay’s Quotes: “He’s a very skilled player … He sees the field well. Of all our players, he’s the one who controlled the game for us. He’s the one who controlled the distribution … He works so well off the ball … He does a nice job of finishing when he’s down near the goal.”
JOAO PEDRO RIBEIRO, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Savvy exchange student who was dangerous in the box with either foot and led the Tigers with six goals and two assists … His knowledge of the game and technical ability were also invaluable in helping the Tigers build their attack.
Livesay’s Quotes: “J.P. has an excellent understanding of the game … He moves well off the ball, helping create space and opportunities for his teammates … J.P. strikes the ball well with both of his feet and is able to capitalize on half-chances … He does an excellent job of dropping back from his striker position to create turnovers and put the opposing team’s midfielders under pressure.”
NICK CATLIN, MOUNT ABE SOPHOMORE. Notes: Talented, determined ball-winner and smart distributor at central midfield … Constantly harassed opposing midfielders … Moved well without the ball and looked for teammates when he possessed the ball … Scored three goals and tied for the team lead with four assists.
Corey’s Quotes: “The greatest attributes Nick had was just his relentlessness and his toughness … He made good decisions … He played with his head up … Nick was very dangerous … He had one of the strongest shots on the team. He could really crack it … He’s a prototypical central midfield player, with a big motor, technically strong, and with the potential to score from distance.”
TUCKER PARADEE, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Strong defender at left back who also sparked the Eagle attack with well-struck corner kicks and restarts, long throw-ins and dangerous runs … Picked up a goal and two assists … Typically shut down opponents’ right wings, marked well when teams attacked down the opposite side, and moved the ball well up the field.
Corey’s Quotes: “We were able to play with three in the back because we had a guy like Tucker there who would be where he needed to be … He just understood the game really well … He had a great demeanor out there. He looked so calm and comfortable … He was a very steady, intelligent defender … There were very few guys he couldn’t stay in front of.”
CAMDEN SIMPSON, VUHS/MUHS SOPHOMORE. Notes: Tied for the local lead with six goals and added a pair of assists … Recorded five goals and an assist in eight games for VUHS before his family moved to Middlebury, where he saw less time after joining a new team midseason, but added a goal and an assist … Has breakaway speed and can find the corner of the net when in the box.
Hayes’ Quotes: “He’s a high-impact player, no question about it … As a sophomore, he’s one of the better players in the county … He’s definitely someone you have to watch for … He has speed to burn and can finish.”
NICK WILKERSON, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Relentless, quick central defender who communicated well and excelled within the team concept and in taking on attackers one-versus-one … Typically distributed well out of the back and stepped into the attack effectively, picking up an assist.
Livesay’s Quotes: “He’s the leader of our defense and the one who coordinates the team in our defensive back line … He’s certainly one of our strongest players in the air … He has good speed and tackling ability … He was able to track down players when they got behind us.”
LATHROP BROWNELL, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Smart, steady center back whose consistency helped hold together a Commodore defense plagued by injuries … Vocal leader in the back … Possesses solid skills, made good decisions with the ball, and struck many dangerous restarts at midfield, scoring on one 40-yard bomb.
Hayes’ Quotes: “He worked on his delivery, which was nice, really trying to work the ball … He’s such a communicator. He’ll move the line when you need to move the line … He takes good angles. He makes up for in savvy what he may not have in speed … He’s a strong tackler, physical … He’s definitely a guy you want on the field.”
COLLIN EUGAIR, OV SENIOR. Notes: Tall, strong and quick defender who helped the OV defense handle consistent pressure this year … Developed skills rapidly after picking up the sport formally as a high school sophomore … Became a team leader this fall.
Williams’ Quotes: “Collin is big and fast, while at the same time has foot skills that are surprising to anyone playing against him … His speed and strength were a match for all the strikers he matched up against … He was very difficult to beat … He worked hard in practice and during the games, always modeling what I wanted from all the other boys … He had a fantastic attitude … Obviously, a great kid.”
NICK SZCZECINSKI, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Averaged 5.5 saves per game and posted five shutouts … Stopped half of the six penalty kicks he faced … Strong with his feet and adept at handling balls played back to him by his teammates and at coming off his line to control corner kicks and balls served in the air into the Eagle box.
Corey’s Quotes: “Nick is a tremendous athlete. He’s quick. He’s big. He’s got excellent jumping ability … He was superb at defending corner kicks, defending restarts, defending long balls played into the box, and he was also a pretty darn good shot-stopper … He was quick to get to the ground and cover, and his hands were very good.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].