The Citizen's sports department will soon announce its choice for 2017 player of the year and the roster of all-star selections. Here is a look back at previous winners of The Citizen's boys soccer player of the year award.
Boys Soccer All-Stars: Van Duyne leads Maroons to first winning record in over a decade
Auburn's Kobe Van Duyne has had his share of individual success, but after four years with the varsity boys soccer program, he was finally able to enjoy some team accomplishments, too.
Van Duyne, The Citizen's boys soccer player of the year, was the driving force for the Maroons as they qualified for sectionals for the first time in six years. He led the team with 21 goals and added nine assists as Auburn finished the regular season with an 11-4 record.
The Maroons haven't had that many victories in over a decade.
"It was the first time in awhile that we've had a good season," Van Duyne said. "I wanted to improve from last year because we didn't make sectionals, and I felt if we wanted to make it I had to score more.
"I feel I did that the best I could."
Van Duyne has been a frequent net-filler over the course of his career in Auburn. Besides leading the team in scoring this season, Van Duyne had a team-high 18 goals last year as a junior and nine the season before that.
With a dangerous supporting cast around him this season, Van Duyne vowed to improve how often he distributed the ball.
He finished second on the team with nine assists.
"Personally, I wanted to get more assists," Van Duyne said. "Everyone jokes that I don't pass the ball, but I wanted to get more assists to show that I can pass, too. It felt good to share the ball and that we had the ability to do that. This year we had Devon (Richardson) scoring, Emmet (Mack) scoring ... everyone was scoring."
Van Duyne has played competitive soccer dating back to when he was 5 years old, and did so predominantly against players two or three years his senior. According to Van Duyne, the experience of playing against older players was a key factor in what eventually became a successful career with Auburn.
"That was a big part of it," Van Duyne said. "It pushed me to get better. (Former Auburn coach) Dave Gregg always told me if I wanted to be better, I had to play against people who were better than me. He suggested I play against older kids."
That theme carried Van Duyne through his time with the Maroons. He played junior varsity in eighth grade and moved on to varsity as a freshman.
"I remember coming in as a freshman playing with all juniors and seniors," Van Duyne said. "There were only three freshmen: Emmet, Buck Haines and I. They'd joke around with us. It was different and fun."
Van Duyne, who is also one of Auburn's top indoor and outdoor track runners, has yet to decide what his plans are for college. Wherever he chooses to go, Van Duyne hopes to walk on to the soccer program.
Until then, he'll look back on four years of enjoyment with the Maroons.
"Coach (Mike) Boyd always tells us we won't remember the games we won or lost, or every goal we scored," Van Duyne said. "We'll remember the bond we had with our team and everything we joked around about. Our chemistry is great on the field because we bonded so well off of it.
"I'll remember all the good times I've had with everybody more than the goals."
Boys Soccer All-Stars: Skaneateles' Sam Smith shuts out opposition
SKANEATELES | Sam Smith wasn’t guaranteed anything.
Way before he was extending shutout streaks or being a critical cog for Skaneateles’ NYSPHSAA semifinal qualifier, Smith, The Citizen boys soccer player of the year, had to win a job.
Despite being the only senior, Smith wasn’t promised the starting goalkeeper position for Skaneateles. Smith was on the varsity roster in 2014, but didn’t see the field for the Lakers – his playing time came in practice or on the rare occasion he suited up for Skaneateles’ junior varsity team.
“In the beginning, he wasn’t our number one,” Skaneateles head coach Aaron Moss said. “He said, ‘I’m not going to take that as my result.' He really picked his game up and ultimately became a difference-maker in a lot of games.”
Last fall, Skaneateles had three senior goalkeepers, including the 2014 boys soccer player of the year Billy Patrick. Smith’s experience waiting in the wings helped shape the goalkeeper he eventually became.
“Seeing Billy and seeing what he could do definitely drove me to work harder and try to be at the level he set last year, and possibly push myself to get past the level that Billy was at,” Smith said. “This season, I tried to be a little more aggressive than I was.”
When he got his chance, Smith carved out his own legacy. In six games spanning from Oct. 13 to Nov. 7, Smith didn’t allow a single goal – a stretch that included the Section III Class B playoffs and the NYSPHSAA regional qualifying game.
Smith credits his defense for being “a stone wall," and believes the shutout streak intimidated opponents preparing to play the Lakers.
“I wanted to maintain that shutout to generate some fear in the next team we would play,” Smith said. “There’s more of a drive to not let in a goal during the game.”
Smith’s streak ended in the state semifinal Nov. 14 against Plattsburgh, the eventual NYSPHSAA Class B champions. The Lakers lost that game 2-1.
“It sort of hit me after I gave up that first goal in the state semifinals,” Smith said. “I couldn’t make that streak longer, but a couple days after I was like ‘Yeah, I went awhile.' Some of the teams we play generally put up a lot of goals.”
With soccer season in the books, Smith turns his attention to his musical talents. A gifted bass player, Smith is an all-state musician and has participated in a number of festivals and prestigious camps. Since he began playing in third grade, Smith has gravitated towards the jazz genre.
“I really enjoy the collaboration with other musicians that jazz has to offer,” Smith said. “Most other genres of music you’re looking off a piece of music or playing two or three notes over and over, but with jazz you get to make it your own.”
Like in music, soccer involves cohesiveness and Smith was a major part of the Skaneateles machine – catching even his coaches by surprise.
“He’s a great kid who understood what he got this year he earned,” Moss said. “He exceeded some people’s expectations, including some of the players and the coaches early on. Through hard work he impressed everyone on the team.”
Not bad for someone who wasn’t even promised a job.
Boys Soccer All-Stars: Skaneateles goalie Billy Patrick welcomes pressure
SKANEATELES | Billy Patrick welcomes the pressure.
In a position often overlooked when it’s time to give credit but takes a share of the blame in any loss, the Skaneateles senior realizes just how lonely the goalie position can seem on the field.
But he embraces that.
“The mindset for a goalie, basically, is you don’t want to screw up,” Patrick said. “That’s the whole thing. You’re in there to save the game and keep everyone in it.”
Patrick, The Citizen’s boys soccer player of the year, registered 13 shutouts to lead the Lakers to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B semifinals this season.
"He has a great heart and he works his tail off," said Skaneateles coach Aaron Moss. "There's never a question during any practice or game that he's giving it everything he's got."
For Moss, a former goalie himself, it comes down to making saves at key moments in the game. Moss recalled when Patrick made a stunning save on a cross pass in the first 10 minutes in a 3-0 win over Section V’s McQuaid Jesuit during the season, and corralled a couple Cazenovia chances early on to set the tone in a 2-0 win in the Section III, Class B title game.
“When you win, you’re supposed to win … But they don’t understand that if that save doesn’t get made, it changes the whole game,” Moss said.
The key to Patrick’s success has been his ability to stay mentally engaged, whether he has to make one save or more than a dozen.
“I like the action because it keeps me in the game,” said Patrick, who was named first-team all-league. “I get into the game, and I start shouting. I start shouting and it gets me more into the game. Making the saves makes me feel a part of the team.”
Moss remembered when Patrick joined the team as the backup goalie his sophomore season. With little playing time, Patrick showed his eagerness to get in the net by asking for a start on his birthday, which also fell on senior night.
"That just how Billy is, he'll say what's on his mind," said Moss, who chose to start his senior netminder.
Patrick hasn’t disappointed since taking over as a starter his junior year. The Lakers went to the section finals last year, and broke through this season for their first title since 2010.
“Last year, I don’t think we were ready,” Patrick said. “This year, we built up our team enough, we practiced and played hard enough to win our section.”
Skaneateles topped Union Springs/Port Byron, 3-0, in the state quarterfinals, but the Lakers' run ended in a 6-0 loss to Mattituck -- the eventual state champions -- in the semifinals.
Looking back, Patrick was proud of being a part of one of only a handful of Lakers teams to make it that far.
“It looks bad, but it wasn’t really a game like that,” Patrick said. “We kept up with them, we just didn’t take the chances they had. They played well and did everything right.”
With his varsity career over, Patrick is looking forward to the next step. He hopes to continue playing soccer in college, and has had discussions with a few coaches from around the state.
“It’s sad that I won’t be playing with those guys again,” Patrick said. “But it’s exciting that I’ll be playing with a new group of people in college. It’s something to be proud of when I look back on high school.”
Quiet Captain: Strods leads Skaneateles boys soccer team to sectional finals
SKANEATELES | The best captains aren’t necessarily the loudest.
Case in point: Skaneateles’ Tyler Strods. For Lakers boys soccer coach Aaron Moss, Strods wasn’t a thundering voice, but an effective one.
“He’s not tremendously vocal, but it’s not how much you say, but what you say,” Moss said. “Without saying it, he commanded the best out of the players around him.”
Strods, The Citizen’s boys soccer player of the year, was instrumental in the Lakers turning an early season skid into a trip to the Section III, Class B finals. The senior chipped in nine goals and six assists, but contributed much more than what is shown on the score sheet.
"They made it really easy, making me look like a good leader," Strods said of his teammates. "They're a really good group of guys."
Skaneateles struggled against some of the league’s top teams early in the season, and lost the first three games by one goal. Following the slide, the Lakers won their next five and nine of its final 13 regular season games. As a No. 7 seed, allowed one goal in the first three rounds to advance to the Section III, Class B finals.
"We knew we weren't the most talented team," Strods said. "But everyone on the team was a bunch of brothers. We came together as a team rather than a bunch of talented individuals."
For Strods, the tough schedule to open the season paid dividends.
"It was frustrating at first, but it paid off," he said. "Other seasons we started out with an easy schedule and didn't do so well. It pushed us towards the level of play we needed to be at."
Besides his leadership abilities, Strods impressed Moss with his ability and willingness to play whatever position was needed without any questions or apprehension.
“He’s a warrior, he’s a battler and he wants to play,” Moss said.
A three-year starter, Strods joined the team one season after Skaneateles won the state title. Although this team didn’t get quite that far, it was a great way to end his high school soccer career.
"This year we put it all together -- some talent, a lot of chemistry," Strods said. "It ended up being a better season than a lot of us expected."
New Start at the End
Austin Amory is a senior that played on the Skaneateles boys soccer team and it was a season of firsts.
“It was the first time playing defense in my career,” Amory said about the start of the 2012 campaign for the Lakers that culminated with a 12-4-2 and a trip into the Section III, Class B tournament.
Amory played about three-quarters of the season on the foreign half of the field before shifting back to the offensive side.
“Wanted a strong defense. Most teams, the best teams, the most successful teams had a strong defense so that is what we wanted,” Amory said about the start of the season. “It didn’t quite work out as planned and I moved back up to forward.”
The game the The Citizen 2012 Boys Soccer Player of the Year moved back to offense he scored three goals in a win over Jordan-Elbridge on Oct. 4.
Amory finished the season with six goals and three assists total.
Three-quarters of the Lakers wins came by a single goal including a 3-2 overtime win over rival Marcellus in late September. The Lakers lost to Cazenovia by the same count in mid-October. Those Cazenovia Lakers eventually ended the season for Skaneateles in the sectional semifinals.
“We were named the ‘Cardiac Kids’ for playing the most overtime games,” Amory said about the results. “It prepared us for later on in the season. Getting all those nerve wracking games in made us more aware of losing. We got to experience tough situations and learn how to come back from deficits.”
Amory was one of four senior captains for Skaneateles this season. They helped prepare the next wave of soccer players coming up for the Lakers, including freshman Sam Clymer, who made the leap from modified soccer to the varsity level this season.
“They teach us,” Clymer said. “How to be a team member, how to play with confidence, be patient with the ball. They are great leaders showing us what high school soccer is.”
Amory won the Matt Moran Award for this work on the field for Skaneateles.
The award goes to “the player who shows the most citizenship and sportsmanship,” according to co-head coach Aaron Moss.
“We will always remember his determination and work ethic,” Moss said of Amory this season.
This spring, Amory is going to play tennis for the first time.
Another first for a senior.
Leader of the pack
POPLAR RIDGE — A captain is someone who accepts the role of leader, takes the pressure on when he is called upon, helps to teach his teammates and goes above and beyond.
Southern Cayuga junior Mike Killian exemplifies those characteristics and it has earned him The Citizen’s boys soccer Player of the Year.
During the middle of the season, Killian was asked to become a captain of the team by coach Matt Bancroft and without a moment wasted, he accepted the role.
“I definitely did not hesitate,” Killian said. “My coach just came to me one day in practice and was like, ‘Would you like to be a captain?’ I was like ‘Definitely,’ because I feel like I need to be a leader when I’m on the field.”
When he was asked to take the role, the junior was shocked.
“It definitely was a surprise to me,” Killian said. “I was speechless. There were a lot of seniors on the team that I figured would get it before me. I was very surprised when he asked me.”
While he may have been shocked, Killian knew things would have to change.
“I definitely stepped my game up when I became captain,” Killian said. “Because it was more like, I was a leader when I was on the field, instead of just playing out there — definitely take control when the game was needed.”
That’s exactly what Killian did.
The midfielder scored 11 goals and had eight assists. “I definitely didn’t expect to have as many goals as I did,” Killian said. “It was surprising to me.”
Of those 11 goals, there were two that meant more then the rest.
Against Jefferson, in a Class IV, Section C sectional game, Killian scored both goals for the Chiefs in the 2-1 double overtime win.
The first goal game late in the second half, but the lead would be shortlived.
“We were kind of excited that we scored the first goal,” Killian said. “Then (the lead) kind of just went (away). We were like ‘Wow that kind of just happened.’”
However, that did not deter Killian. Late in the second overtime the midfielder score the game-winning goal.
“It was very, very awesome to me because we were kind of down on ourselves, because we let them score that goal,” Killian said. “When I scored and we won, and they didn’t have a chance because it was sudden victory, I was just like really excited. I don’t even remember watching the ball go over the line. I just remember knowing it went in and celebrating.”
Along with being named captain, scoring 11 goals and winning a playoff game, Killian was selected IAC first-team all-star.
“It means a lot, because that’s basically some of the best players in our league that get chosen for that team,” Killian said of his selection. “It’s really an honor. It’s a team game, but it’s good to stand—out from the rest.”
Even though Killian had a standout season, he saw room for improvement.
“Basically I looked at it as kind of a building year for next year,” Killian said. “Because it’s my junior year, I kind of needed to step up, because I became a captain in the middle of the year. It was kind of a lookout for what I had next year, so it was basically just a building year.”
To help build for next year, Killian and the rest of the Chiefs will prepare in the offseason.
“I play in a summer league with my team,” Killian said. “We play in an indoor league in Lansing. We try to get as many players from the team out there. A majority of the players, play with us over the summer. We play a lot of teams from Syracuse. So we get a lot of good players that we play against.”
Hopefully, practicing in the summer with his teammates, Killian will accomplish his goal.
“I definitely want to make it farther then last year. Maybe a sectional championship, perhaps even farther,” Killian said. “I want to win a sectional championship, because that’s something I haven’t experienced yet. Winning that would be perfect to end my career.”
Staff writer Nick Hollenstein can be reached at 282-2257 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at
THE CITIZEN ALL-STARS: BOYS SOCCER
Mike Killian, Southern Cayuga, midfield. Midway through the season, Killian was named captain of his team. He scored 11 goals and had eight assists and was named IAC first-team all-star.
Matt Carberry, Auburn, midfield. In his senior year, Carberry scored 12 goals and assisted on six, ending his career with 24 goals and 11 assists. For the second straight year, he was selected team MVP Offensive Player of the Year.
Steve Cole, Cato-Meridian, midfield. Named to the first-team all-patriot league, Cole scored six goals and had two assists.
Jacob Pritchard, Tyburn Academy, midfield. Pritchard led his team with 21 goals. He also added eight assists.
Mitch Hares, Union Springs, striker. Hares led the Wolves with six goals and four assists and selected his team's MVP. He was also IAC first-team all-star.
John Ferro, Union Springs, defense. Ferro was named IAC first-team all-star and he scored one goal and had an assist this year.
Joel Handley, Auburn, defense. While Handley only had a goal and assist, he was his team’s Defensive Player of the Year. He was also CNYCL second-team all-league for the second straight year.
David Wheat, Southern Cayuga, defense. Leading his team on defense, Wheat denied his opponents opportunities. He also scored three times and assisted on three and was named IAC first-team all-star.
Brad Reiks, Southern Cayuga, goalkeeper. On the year, Reiks saved 172 shots, only allowing 24 goals. This was his first year playing and had no prior experience in net.
Andy Manning, Moravia, goalkeeper. Manning stepped in when his team needed him. When starting goalkeeper Brian Badman went down with an injury, Manning took to the net, stopping over 200 shots.
Zach Campenella, Moravia • Alex Clark, Southern Cayuga • Dustin Eshleman, Moravia • Jacob Hawley, Cato-Meridian • Seth Kieffer, Moravia • Paul Leveswue, Moravia • Ian Miller, Auburn • George Murphy, Southern Cayuga • Dab Peckham, Cato-Meridian • Jordan Serling, Auburn • Nathan Simmons, Tyburn Academy • Alex Torea, Southern Cayuga • Scott Wheat, Southern Cayuga • Josh Whitney, Moravia
Richards was key to Lakers title trek
SKANEATELES — The Skaneateles boys soccer team needed a change. A Section III, Class B title in 2008 and a runner-up finish in 2009 just weren’t good enough for Lakers head coach Kirk Atwater.
The Lakers had always played a 4-4-2 formation, meaning they would have four defenders, four midfielders and two forwards on the field. But in 2010, Atwater implemented a 3-4-3 scheme with three forwards, four middies, and three defenders. The key cog in this new scheme was Mike Richards.
“He was the reason we could do it. Mike Richards was the best player on the field,” Atwater said. “To be honest, without Michael we wouldn’t be running three in the back. He’s that good. Without Mikey, no way we run three in the back. No way.”
The move worked to perfection, literally.
The Lakers reeled off 22 straight wins en route to a state title. Richards was named the state Final Four MVP and is also The Citizen’s soccer player of the year.
On a team that boasted three prolific scorers — Kevin Rice, AJ Richichi and Jeff Baldetti — and all-state players — Spencer Parker — when asked who his team’s MVP was, Atwater, without hesitation, said “Mike Richards.”
“I think the sweeper position really put me ahead of them just because I was the last defender,” Richards said. “Anything that got by anyone else, if anything got by anyone else I was there to clean it up and if I wasn’t, Trevor (Diamond) was there with me.”
Richards’ support on the 3-4-3 allowed for Kevin Rice, a defender a year ago, to move up to forward. All Rice did as a forward was lead the team in scoring with 20 goals and 10 assists. Rice wasn’t the only Laker that benefited from the new scheme — the entire offense did by scoring 76 goals.
As the heart and soul of the defense, Richards captained his line up the field, closing the gap between the midfielders. As that gap closed, the middies then closed the game with the forwards, creating a smaller field and more pressure for Skaneateles.
The constant pressure led to the Lakers shutting out four of their five opponents in the postseason. The only goals allowed came in the state semifinals versus Akron. Not so coincidentally, Richards was sidelined for a portion of the game with an ankle injury.
“It was evident in the Akron game,” Atwater said of Richards#’ influence on the field.
Even though he isn’t alone on the defense with Zach Brownlee, Tim Lewis and Diamond in goal, all three point the finger at Richards regarding the success of the team.
“It’s unreal how well he is back there,” Brownlee said. “Without him we are really nothing.”
Others noticed the value of Richards to the team as he was named first-team all-league and first-team all-state. Every tournament he played in this season he was named MVP and was even named Player of the Year in the Liberty League.
And as his name was called as the state tourney MVP, he accepted the award reluctantly, shaking his head in disbelief, thinking he was undeserving.
He was probably the only one though.
“That was a special team,” Atwater said. “And Mikey was by far the MVP.”
Bird soars above competition for Lakers
It's not difficult being the goalie on a great soccer team. Somehow though, Skaneateles senior Jake Bird managed to make the job look glamorous for the Lakers - just one reason why he was selected The Citizen's player of the year for boys soccer.
“We had Jon Dower, who is a Skaneateles alumni and was a goalie here, come and he worked with me,” Bird said. “He helped me get to the next level. I was already a good athlete, but he made me more of a technical athlete. We worked on my catching and hand position. I could already punt and dive, but by the end I was better.”
That was evident, as Bird helped the Lakers earn 11 shutouts this season, to the tune of 121 saves. He was first-team all-league in the OHSL Liberty League, as well as an all-state nominee.
“My biggest thing was just staying focused,” he said. “We knew we would dominate a lot of games this year and I know I needed to be prepared back there. I didn't get a ton of shots, which is a testament to my defense. They made my job a lot easier and I was able to focus on the shots.”
Bird's steadiness in the net also earned him the attention of a bunch of colleges, a handful of which he is still trying to decide between. Even though his high school career didn't end the way he had hoped it would, he will likely play at the next level. For the second straight season, the Lakers' season ended seemingly too soon. Last year, the Section III, Class B champs lost by one goal in sudden death overtime in the first round of the state tournament, when Bird let a rare ball pass him into the net. This season, the Lakers tried to repeat as sectional champs, but once again fell short by one score, as Marcellus knocked them off 2-1.
“It was extremely disappointing, especially since we had such huge hopes this year,” Bird said. “
“I'm really proud of our team, but to be honest, that day, Marcellus just wanted it more than we did.”
Next year, Paul O'Donnell will have some big shoes to fill in the Lakers goal. But if there is one thing Bird has shown his younger teammates, it's how to remain consistent.
Parker powers Skaneateles
Austin Parker was the director that helped lead the Skaneateles boys soccer team to their first Section III, Cass B title since 1989.
The Citizen's boys soccer player of the year scored eight goals and 11 assists, which tied him for the team lead.
“It's a team effort,” Parker said. “I'm proud to know my contribution helped out. An assist is just as good as a goal. It's about getting everyone involved and relying on your teammates.”
Heading into his third year on the varsity team, Parker's main goal was to keep his ankle problems scarce so he could play a full season. In his sophomore year, his broken ankle cost him a majority of time, and then he sprained his ankle in his junior year. However with a little extra support and help from the trainers, he was able to return to full force this season.
“I taped my ankles up quite a bit,” he said. “I also used an ankle brace and that got my ankle strength up over time.”
Parker's goal was the first strike for the Lakers in their 3-0 win that helped them secure their first sectional title in 19 years.
“It was great for us,” Parker said. “It brought the Skaneateles soccer program back to the way it was. It's always been a nice program, but the win kind of got us back on track.”
His senior leadership was a main factor in their success.
“It was pretty special to know that the players were playing for me,” Parker said. “A lot of them knew it was my senior year and they didn't want me to go out without a title.”
The Lakers defense also stepped up a great deal.
“We were just meant for success this year,” Parker said.