An eclectic group of players and coaches contributed to a successful season for soccer teams around the Bi-City.
From a coach having success in his first season to a player saving his best for his last, there was too much accomplished to limit it all to just one of each.
On the boys side, Pacelli coach Nick Fusco and Glenwood coach Jason Robertson were named Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City co-coaches of the year. Pacelli senior Luke Dawahare was awarded player of the year.
For the girls, Glenwood coach John Robertson picked up the top award, while Columbus sophomores Gigi Schorr and Kimberly May were named co-players of the year.It will seem odd to some that two players from the same team could be named players of the year, but they didn’t just have an ordinary season. When it came down to it, Columbus coach Rusty Oliver couldn’t say which one above the other was more important to the team’s success.
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May recorded 20 goals and 17 assists, while Schorr notched 21 and three, respectively. With those two leading the charge, the Lady Blue Devils won 15 games and advanced to the Class AAAAA quarterfinals. Their 3-2 loss to Starr’s Mill was frustrating, but, then, Starr’s Mill did go on to win the state championship.
Schorr’s season was impressive as individual accomplishments go, but was made even more so because of the fact she was coming off of an ACL tear a season ago.“It was a lot of therapy,” she said. “I thankfully had the best doctor and physical therapist. They prepared me to get back to play.”
She said it was an eight-month process, but when she got back on the field this season, it was as if she had never left.
May was coming off an impressive freshman campaign in which she scored 26 goals and notched eight assists en route to an All-Bi-City first-team selection. Her sophomore campaign was nearly as successful in goal scoring and much more so in assists.
She said the connection she had with teammates, particularly Schorr, helped to improve her all-around game.
“Gigi and I have been playing since we were about 10 years old,” May said. “I know how she works and she knows how I work, so we just kind of balance each other out.”
Both players have two more years left at the school, making the future bright for an already ultra-successful team.
Another ultra-successful team over the past three years has been the Glenwood girls team, which has won three straight state championships.
This one was the most surprising of the three, coach John Robertson said earlier this year, but no less satisfying.
“The biggest part I’ll take away is how this team came together,” he said. “This year, they really gelled and became a team. We couldn’t rely on any one person.”
His leadership helped the Lady Gators to 14-1 record overall to go along with the championship.
Both boys teams noted in the postseason honors — Pacelli and Glenwood — came as somewhat of a surprise, at least to those outside of the program.
Glenwood just started its boys program three years ago, and Jason Robertson (no relation to John) led it to its first ever AISA state championship this year. Fusco, in his first year at the helm, leaned on seniors like Dawahare and took his club to the state semifinals for the first time this century.
Fusco said it was a dream experience to have such success right away and praised Dawahare for his senior leadership in guiding the team to such heights.
“If there was a guy to describe as having the best qualities of a high school athlete (it’s him),” Fusco said. “Courageous, always on time, the last one to leave — all those cliches. Those are all Luke Dawahare.
Dawahare finished the season with 14 goals and seven assists, but his contributions were even more evident in the intangibles.
“I thought I did well keeping the guys focused,” he said. “We had a big gap — either everyone was a senior or they were young. I thought, as a senior, I did a good job keeping everyone focused on what our goals were.”
Jason Robertson said the goal was to win a state championship this year, but that it’s difficult to have such a high expectation for a program still in its infancy. He created a motto before the season, however, asking players what they were doing when they didn’t have the ball.
“That made the biggest difference this year, because they realized it had to be a team effort,” he said.
By season’s end, that’s what he got. The Gators finished 10-2 and won the first title in program history.
“The greatest compliment I got from one of the players after we won was when he said, ‘Coach, we did this for you,’” he said. “That means a lot to a coach.”