ADDISON COUNTY — It’s difficult to evaluate the relative impact of a hard-working scorer and a vital defender on the success of a soccer team.
In the case of the Mount Abraham Union High School boys’ squad this fall the task proved virtually impossible, other than to say that both senior striker Grayson Webb and senior sweeper Zack Ellison played key roles as Coach Mike Corey’s Eagles reached the Division II semifinals.
And to say that Webb and Ellison are the 2011 Addison IndependentBoys’ Soccer Co-Players of the Year. Three other Eagles who also helped their team win eight games and earn D-II’s No. 3 seed joined Webb and Ellison on the Addison Independent 2011 Boys’ Soccer All-Star Team.
Coach Doc Seubert’s competitive Middlebury Union High School squad featured a balanced lineup and shrugged off injuries to finish at 5-7-2, with all the regular-season losses except one by either one or two goals. Two Tigers are recognized here, a senior and a junior.
Coach Kevin Hayes’ Vergennes Union High School team doubled their win total from two to four games, but that modest improvement does not tell the story of their season: A year ago VUHS was outscored by 35 goals, while this fall that margin shrank to six. Two Commodore juniors made the Independentteam.
First-year Coach Muffie Harvey’s Otters moved from three 2010 wins to four this fall while playing more attractive soccer and showing stronger team harmony. Two Otter Valley Union High School senior veterans who helped both those trends are honored here.
Selections were made based on observation, consultation with the coaches and statistics. Congratulations to the following:
GRAYSON WEBB, MOUNT ABE SENIOR, CO-PLAYER OF THE YEAR.Notes: Tireless worker who never gave up on a play and relentlessly pressed opposing defenders with or without the ball ... An opposing coach noted he successfully chased a play down for 60 yards after he was dispossessed ... Tied for the Eagle goal-scoring lead with 10, and added five assists to factor in 15 of the Eagles’ 34 goals ... Possesses excellent speed, a terrific first step, nice touch on the ball and a strong shot.
Corey’s Quotes: “(He has) great perseverance ... He just wasn’t going to allow a mistake to hurt his teammates ... He brings it 80 minutes every game ... He has a very high work rate for a striker ... As one of our captains he is a great leader. He is a fierce competitor who is always under control.”
ZACK ELLISON, MOUNT ABE SENIOR, CO-PLAYER OF THE YEAR.Notes: Smart, fast defender who rose to the difficult task of playing centrally in a three-back formation and anchored a back line that allowed fewer than six shots on goal per game ... Strong at marking individually and at making tactical decisions to disrupt opponents’ advances ... Excelled in playing the ball out of the air and at communicating with his fellow defenders ... Effective at triggering the Eagle attack passing out of the back.
Corey’s Quotes: “He really did improve his game a lot this year ... He got tremendous rave reviews from the opposing coaches ... He was so good at getting up in the air and winning balls, and he was so vocal about it ... Zack is very fast and quick to a ball. He is fierce in his tackles and clever in getting out of tough spots.”
GRAHAM BARLOW, MUHS SENIOR.Notes: Intelligent and skilled defender who steadied MUHS in the back and also posed a major offensive threat on set plays ... Scored three goals, including a game-tying, last-minute header in an overtime win at VUHS ... Also used his six-foot, six-inch frame to advantage in the defensive end, clearing services into the box out of trouble ... Good passer who helped the Tigers transition up the field.
Seubert’s Quotes: “He found his offensive thrust with a couple great goals ... He’s a very bright young man and really thinks out there ... He emerged as a communicator over the course of the season ... He stepped up in the center space in the back ... His physical size alone proved to be daunting for some teams ... He’s a strong tackler and distributes well ... He really works at it. He’s a very dedicated, disciplined student of the game.”
ALEX MCCORMICK, MOUNT ABE JUNIOR.Notes: Highly technical, versatile player who scored 10 goals and set up three ... Started the season at central midfield and moved to striker to form a dangerous tandem with Webb ... Speedy with a soft touch on the ball and the ability to get a hard shot off quickly with either foot ... Creative player with good passing as well as scoring skills.
Corey’s Quotes: “Alex had a breakout season ... As a sophomore he showed glimmers of the skill on the ball and field vision that he possessed. This year as junior, he put these attributes together in a much more consistent fashion ... He spent the first 10 games as a very successful central midfield player, effectively transitioning the ball to the attacking group. The last half of the season he showcased his technical skills and explosive shot as a striker.”
MARROTT WEEKES, MUHS JUNIOR.Notes: Strong, steady, all-around player who spent most of his time as an offensive midfielder but also ran up front and led MUHS in points with five goals and three assists ... Excellent ball-winner and defender at midfield who distributes and sees the field well ... Effective player in the air ... Took many of the Tigers’ restarts, and rarely came off the field.
Seubert’s Quotes: “He’s very versatile ... He’s a tenacious ball-tackler ... He’s an absolute delight as an intense player .... He did give us a spark up front when we most needed it ... He was very durable. He played an awful lot of minutes ... He’s a real strong kid ... He has the ability to hold the ball well, possess it ... He’s one of the more technical players on our team.”
ZACH OUELLETTE, VUHS JUNIOR.Notes: Skilled and smart central midfielder who scored four times and set up one goal ... Played a key role by making good decisions moving the ball as VUHS improved its transition game ... Solid defender who reads passing lanes and plays well in the air.
Hayes’ Quotes: “He’s a talented player, an unselfish player ... He came back on defense when we needed him ... He’s creative. He’s got good vision, definitely a playmaker ... He’s got very good individual skills, passing ability ... His ability to see the field was great throughout the season ... We were playing a lot through him.”
TOMMY NELSON, MOUNT ABE SENIOR.Notes: Tireless, hard-working defensive central midfielder whose efforts were vital protecting the Eagle back line and in moving the ball up the field ... Effective winning 50-50 balls, especially in the air ... Also did well stepping into the attack ... Excelled despite dealing with sore ankles all fall.
Corey’s Quotes: “Tommy is a workhorse ... I describe him as a thoroughbred ... He cruised the field winning balls in defensive battles and with good passing skills got the ball to our attacking players ... If the ball was in the air and in his area he won 99 percent of the challenges ... If there were a player who was the heart of our team I would select Tommy.”
MATT DIER, OV SENIOR.Notes: Smart, steady central midfielder and team leader who puts maximum effort into playing both ways ... Strong defender both marking individually and supporting teammates ... Poised, skilled player with the ball who helped trigger the Otter attack.
Harvey’s Quotes: “He’s an amazing defender ... He sees the big picture ... He has super strong skills, and the composure is the biggest piece of that, and composure comes with good strong ballhandling skills ... He never, ever has come unglued ... He is command central ... He’s a strong natural leader.”
CALE THYGESEN, MOUNT ABE SOPHOMORE.Notes: Technically sound and tactically savvy offensive midfielder who helped set up the Eagle attack ... Also filled up front, and recorded five goals and a team-high six assists ... Creative player who has the skill to take advantage of what he sees.
Corey’s Quotes: “His finesse on the ball, great vision and superior ability to play long balls, either in the run of play or through restart situations, put opposing defenses on their heels ... He also stepped in as a striker effectively on a number of occasions ... He strikes the ball equally well left or right ... He bends the ball as well as any high school player I’ve seen.”
DEVIN HAYES, VUHS JUNIOR.Notes: Versatile, skilled player who assumed a variety of roles for VUHS and performed well in all ... Smart defender who played centrally in the back or at defensive midfield ... Moved to striker when needed and scored three goals ... Took most of the Commodores’ free kicks and recorded three assists with well placed long balls.
Hayes’ Quotes: “He sees the flow of the game and knows what needs to be done ... He just gets to the right spot ... The timing of his runs is really good ... We definitely missed him the few games he was out ... He can put the ball pretty much where he wants. He definitely puts pressure on the defense with (restarts) ... He’s a leader. There’s no question about that.”
GRANT ROBIN, OV SENIOR: Notes: Agile, athletic goalie with good hands and quick reflexes ... Racked up 201 saves behind an inexperienced back line, averaging more than 14 per game in his 14 appearances … Six goals-against deflected in off defenders … Did well directing defenders and deciding when to come out to snare balls served into the box or challenge shooters … Along with Dier provided key leadership.
Harvey’s Quotes: “He’s an awesome young man, and very much part of putting forward that team mentality ... He has amazing timing ... He’s a good communicator out there. He’s very clear telling defenders where he wants them to be ... He never gets flustered ... He’s pretty amazing back there, and he’s had a lot of pressure ... It would have been a total different story if we hadn’t had Grant.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.