It’s that time of the year again where we honor the best in boys soccer with the 2016 All-County Team.
Even without a state champion, it was a strong season around the county. McIntosh went the farthest, reaching the Elite Eight. Starr’s Mill made it to the second round. Whitewater, Fayette County, and Our Lady of Mercy all also qualified for the state playoffs.
Kicking off individual honors, Takuma Suzuki of McIntosh is the Player of the Year. Suzuki, a midfielder, was the engine that powered a high-octane Chief attack. He piled upped 9 goals and 4 assists for a total of 22 points in just 20 games, sharing All-Region Player of the Year honors with his teammate Jake Donaldson. To top all that off, he’s only a freshman. Playing in a county of top-notch talent, Suzuki still staked his claim as elite.
“Takuma was the glue that held our team together,” said his coach, Bunky Colvin. “He not only sees and evaluates the game at a higher level than most players, that understanding of the game is coupled with the skill to dissect the other team with a great pass or shot. Takuma is truly a special player.”
Michael Lantz of Starr’s Mill is the Freshman of the Year. Lantz, a keeper, steadied the backend of a young Panther squad, allowing only 1.5 goals per game. He saved some of his best performances for the biggest games, shutting out Columbus on the road in the opening round of the playoffs and giving up just one goal to Clarke Central in round two.
There’s a familiar face in charge. Bunky Colvin of McIntosh is again the Coach of the Year. Colvin’s squad was ranked number one in AAAAA much of the year, piling up a 19-2 record before falling to the eventual state champions from Riverwood in the Elite Eight.
The All-County First Team is loaded with talent.
The forwards are Jake Donaldson of McIntosh, Sam Pompeo of Starr’s Mill, and Zach Birkhead of Whitewater. Donaldson led the Chiefs with 21 goals and 14 assists, earning Co-Region Player of the Year honors with Suzuki. Pompeo, a sophomore, tallied 25 goals to lead the Panthers, along with 5 assists. Birkhead, an senior attacking midfielder, notched 10 goals and 6 assists, despite facing double-teams all season long.
The midfield consists of Margarito Cruz of Whitewater, Patrick Bonilla of Starr’s Mill, and Luke Mohney of McIntosh. Cruz, a senior, was called a coach on the field who did the dirty work to make his Wildcats one of the state’s best teams, adding 3 goals and 6 assists. Bonilla, a junior, posted 4 goals and 5 assists. Mohney posted 13 goals and 6 assists for the Chiefs.
The defense is made up of Michael Zwach of McIntosh, Jack VanNimwegen of Starr’s Mill, and Whitewater’s Tucker Sweat and Ian Addison. Zwach helped suffocate opposing offenses for the Chiefs. VanNimwegen posted 6 goals and 4 assists and provided veteran leadership on an extremely young squad. Sweat posted 2 goals and 2 assists while manning the middle for a sturdy defense. Addison tallied 8 goals and was a dangerous weapon on long throws.
Aaron Brewer of McIntosh slots in as a utility player. Brewer played both in the midfield and on defense for the Chiefs, posting 6 goals and 1 assist.
Gersen Van Gunst of Whitewater is the keeper. Van Gunst had a sterling 0.39 goals against per game average with 13 shutouts. He finishes his Wildcat career as the school record holder in shutouts in both a season and career.
The All-County Second Team could stack up against any area’s best.
The forwards are Hagen Clements of Whitewater and Fayette County’s fantastic freshmen Andy Hernandez and Aaron Hauck. Clements was an attacking midfielder who led the Wildcats in goals with 13, while adding 6 assists. Hernandez led the Tigers with 11 goals and 7 assists. Hauck tallied 7 goals and 5 assists.
The midfield consists of Gabriel Ryce of Our Lady of Mercy, Jack Chenette of Whitewater, and Clay Jackson of McIntosh. Ryce, a senior who his coach called maybe the most talented player he’s ever worked with, had a hand in all but two goals the Bobcats scored all year. Chenette, a junior, tallied 7 goals and 8 assists. Jackson put up 9 goals and 10 assists.
The defense is made up of Ryan Patterson of Fayette County, Dylan Eckert of Our Lady of Mercy, Jon Bloch of Whitewater, and Sean Gravley of McIntosh. Patterson, a senior, was a strong presence on the defense who also added 2 goals and 1 assist. Eckert, a senior captain, helped steady a team with three first-year defenders and a rookie goalie. Bloch, a sophomore, notched 5 assists as a shutdown defender for the Wildcats. Gravley posted 1 goal and 4 assists.
John Bruhn makes the team for his versatility as a defender, forward, and midfielder. He finished the season with 8 goals and 7 assists.
Matt Sherry of Fayette County is the keeper. Sherry, a senior, racked up 185 saves and was the vocal leader for the Tigers.
With many more players deserving recognition, there are more to earn Honorable Mention. Fayette County’s honoree is Ian Belwood. McIntosh’s honorees are Gus Fidler, Dylan Keysar, Jacob Stevens, Matthew Craig, Logan Brown, Parker Romo, and Noah Slepicka. Sandy Creek’s honorees are Alberto Yanar, Ameen Cooper, and Tariq Muhammad. Our Lady of Mercy’s honoree is Anthony Caruso.
Ed. Note: Sandy Creek did not submit nominations for the All-County Team.
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