By PAUL GOTHAM
With the 2021 High School Soccer season in the past, here’s a look at the top performers in Section V. Presenting the 2021 Pickin’ Splinters Senior Boys’ Starting XI:
Midfield Wayne Eagles (Finger Lakes East)
Finger Lakes East Player of the Year, Third Team All-State and East Region selection: A skilled playmaker and finisher, Bolt is a tireless worker, thrives without the ball and distorts opposing defenses that have to account for his presence on the pitch, able to receive the ball in stride and make quick decisions, he can break down a defense off the dribble and with the pass, understands how to use pace to set up teammates when distributing the ball; underrated defender who consistently worked back into the defensive third and gained possession of the ball.
Coach’s insights: “What always stood out about Josh was his suddenness. He has great skill and is highly competitive, but it was his ability to change a game in a flash. Before you knew it, he was in on goal with his pace, finishing and altering the outcome of the game.” (Steve Strauss/Bishop Kearney)
— Paul Gotham (@PickinSplinters) October 26, 2021
Attack Bath-Haverling Rams (LCAA I)
Livingston County Division I Player of the Year, First Team All-State and East Region selection: A dynamic offensive threat, Calkins seamlessly shifts from finisher to playmaker, sees the field well and readily distributes to teammates, make no mistake, though, Calkins is a scorer who can find the back of the net through a variety of means, ability to elude double-teams is unparalleled, at his best receiving the ball in full stride and making decisions.
Coach’s insights: “Great athlete and great nose for the goal. Speed, skill and finishing! Broke our hearts with a late free kick in Bath that was world class to the game into OT. He should be Section V Player of the Year in my book.” (Ray Maxwell/Livonia)
a magesterial strike on the direct from the senior, keefer calkins, to send the game to OT #haverlingsoccer @WETM18Sports @HaverlingRams @SCTopTen @Hudl @MenInBlazers @espn @ESPNFC @SecVAthletics @SecVBoysSoccer pic.twitter.com/pzV44TsDHX
— Tim (@timmyg607) September 17, 2021
Midfield Hilton Cadets (Monroe County I)
Monroe County Division I Co-Player of Year, First Team All State, East Region selection and All-American: A versatile performer who can easily shift from passing combinations in crowded spaces to beating opposing defenders in the open field, skilled and athletic, Cavuoto possesses an uncanny knack for making the right play at the right time, at his best in the biggest moments, many of his 24 goals came with the game’s outcome hanging in the balance.
Coach’s insights: “You really have to deny service to him, or he is going to find the ball and put it in the net. We always had one of our center backs with him all the time. He’s so smart and so technical that you don’t see him for a while. With great players, they don’t need five and six chances to score. He got into the mode of only needing one or two chances to score. You have to be aware of where he is on the field at all times, and you have to have somebody close to him or he’s going to find the net because he was in such a good run of form. You could see that in the (Class AA) semi-final. He didn’t threaten us at all, and then he pops with four minutes to go and hits the header to win the game. He’s really smart off the ball and moves really well. (Teammate) Alec Smith did such a good job of finding him in the right spots to make him really dangerous. He’s a clinical finisher.” (John Cotsonas/Penfield)
— Paul Gotham (@PickinSplinters) October 29, 2021
Midfield Churchville-Chili Saints (Monroe County II)
Monroe County Division II Player of the Year, Third Team All-State and East Region selection: Egan’s unparalleled work rate sets him apart from the rest; gifted with a deft touch and field vision, the SUNY Binghamton commit uses those talents to benefit his teammates, but he understands when it is time to assert himself and possesses the ability to execute; strong first touch goes without saying combined with the understanding of pace to create opportunities for those around him.
Coach’s insights: “Gaven is one of the fastest, most-skilled and hardest-working center midfielders that we have in Section V. His work rate sets him apart from others and the amount of ground that he covers is incredible. When game-planning against him, you cannot just slow him down with one player. You need your entire team to be ready to help. He is so dangerous on the ball that you’re holding your breath any time he gets into your defensive third of the field. (Sean Hopkins/Pittsford Sutherland)
— Paul Gotham (@PickinSplinters) September 29, 2021
Attack Pittsford Sutherland Knights (Monroe County III)
All-County performer, Second Team All-State and East Region selection: Comfortable changing direction and changing speed at any spot on the pitch, Field is able to work his way out of traffic, maintain possession and stay composed to make decisions, strong going in either direction uses a low center of gravity to work in and out of defenses, with a strong foot he has to be defended from 25 yards but has the ability to get inside the teeth of a defense as well.
Coach’s insight: “Will is a very active and intelligent player. He does a great job on and off the ball. When we played Sutherland, we tried to make sure he was always marked but he still managed to get away and impact the game. Great finisher. (Nino Pilato/McQuaid Jesuit)
Center Back Hilton Cadets (Monroe County I)
All-County performer: Heady midfield player who has the ability to slow the game to his pace, equipped with a deft touch Inglese sees the field well and is rarely out of his comfort zone, he understands pace and how to use it to create opportunities for teammates, recognizes an open field, can advance the ball 20 to 30 yards with the dribble and deliver a probing ball at the end of said run; anticipates well and steps to the ball aggressively but under control, equipped with a low center of gravity he routinely challenges and wins balls from opponents.
Coach’s insights: He’s the guy that got the attack going. We had to track him coming out of the midfield. If we didn’t, he was really going to hurt us…His tactical awareness and his positional play are way above average. He’s such a smart player that people don’t see that with him. Anthony provides all the dirty work that nobody sees. When you have a guy like that, then you have a chance to be really good…He’s that unsung hero doing his job and doing things right. Those smart guys that don’t get a ton of recognition, but without them it’s the difference between being good or being really, really good. That’s what he did for them. I’m glad he’s going. I’m glad Alec’s (Smith) going. I’m glad Cody’s (Cavuoto) going.” (John Cotsonas/Penfield)
— Paul Gotham (@PickinSplinters) October 29, 2021
Goalkeeper Pittsford Sutherland Knights (Monroe County III)
First Team All-County performer; Combines skill and instincts with athleticism into one package; Kladstrup makes sound decisions along the goal line, reacts well to flow of the game, with deft footwork and a sturdy upper body he takes away shots from post to post, reads the play well and responsibly comes off his line; teammates are comfortable using him as an outlet with the ball back, and he has the ability to not only keep the ball moving but to start the offense.
Coach’s insights: “Carter was very consistent and performed at a high level in net for Sutherland all season. His distribution of the ball, decision-making and technique from the goalkeeper position set him apart from others. When game-planning for his impact, our players knew that when pressed their defenders had confidence in utilizing Carter as an outlet due to his foot skills. Our players also knew to make sure to put high-quality shots on the goal frame as he was very difficult to beat. (Matt Vergamini/Greece Arcadia)
Defender McQuaid Jesuit Knights (Rochester City Athletic Conference)
RCAC Player of the Year: Leone evolved from a steady backline contributor into an offensive threat, he knows how to pick his spots to advance the ball, equipped with a sturdy frame and higher-level decision-making, he waits for the right moment to push the ball creating pressure on a defense that already has to try and contain and variety of scorers in the McQuaid lineup; his defense is still his strength, he sees one pass ahead and always manages to be in the right spot.
Coach’s insights: “Jake is a rock solid central defender who has a high soccer IQ and reads what the offense is going to do before the play happens. He is strong, quick and knows when to get in on tackles against opposing players. Seeing Jake in the middle of a defense makes you game plan to attack the wings and stay away from him as much as you can.” (Sean Hopkins/Pittsford Sutherland)
Jake Leone makes use of combos for a rush. Kevin Howse is there for the stop. pic.twitter.com/Bi7wWHPlNp
— Paul Gotham (@PickinSplinters) October 2, 2021
Attack Penfield Patriots (Monroe County I)
All-County performer and Fifth Team All-State selection: There are those who score goals and then there are scorers, McMillan is in the latter category, the 6-foot-2 forward received plenty of attention from opposing defenses and he understood how to use that for the better of his team, he senses pressure well and knows how to use opportunities for teammates, at the same time when he is one-on-one he is apt to get his shot, comfortable playing the ball to teammates and moving, the Robert Morris commit receives well in full stride and makes sound decisions in traffic.
Coach’s insights: “The thing that differentiates Shane from the other players in Division 1 is his ability to make something out of nothing. I distinctly remember a game at home vs Penfield during Shane’s junior year. We were tied 2-2 and Shane received the ball on the left wing. In the blink of an eye he dished the ball off and received it back on the half volley and whack, it was in the back of the net from way outside the box. I was truly astonished. I already knew he was dangerous, but his ability to conjure something up out of nothing was truly an incredible skill…He found a way to make things happen at the most important times for Penfield. When they needed him, Shane always delivered. Shane’s trademark haircut and languid style of play will be missed. Watching him float around the field and lull you into a false sense of comfort when we drifted in and out of the game was always a challenge to deal with. The moment you thought he was out of the game, not having a good day, snap, he would pull off the goal of the season and remind you exactly why you can’t take your focus off him. Shane will go down as one of the toughest kids I have had to prep for and coach against during my time at Hilton.” (Mike Ellicott/Hilton)
Midfield Keshequa Indians (LCAA III)
Crafty midfield player who keeps opposing defenses in retreat; a pass-first player, Powers understands how to use space on the pitch to create for teammates and self, see openings for others around him and keeps the ball moving, picks his spots well as to when he advances the ball with a dribble; consistently checks back to become point on defense allowing teammates to regain shape, disciplined defender who understands the value of how initial containment can lead to dictating the flow of an opposing offense.
Coach’s insight: Reese has been a force in this league (LCAA) for a while now. He is great at anticipating the play and his touch and passing are superb. It was tough to stop him because if only focused on him, he would find others to set up. What sets him apart from others is his passion for the game. You can always see how much he wants it. At the same time, he always played with class and never showed anyone disrespect on the field. I have a great amount of respect for not only his play but his character as well. Class act. (Chris Masters/Geneseo)
— Paul Gotham (@PickinSplinters) November 5, 2021
Outside Back Spencerport Rangers (Monroe County Division II)
All-County Performer: Combining a deft touch with a sturdy frame, Rajamohan is at his best as a facilitator, reads the field well and understands how to use pace to create opportunities for teammates, sees diagonal passing lanes that others can’t, comfortable in crowded spaces, thrives on contact; a relentless defender, he has a habit of winning 50-50 balls and for takes away possession when others seemingly have the advantage.
Coach’s insights: “Sujan was so effective because he is an unselfish, team-first guy. Because of that he gave their coaches the ability to play him at outside back or in the middle of the park. He was dangerous in both places, and we had to adjust our team and tactics based on where he was on the pitch. He is a gifted dribbler and just seems to always be where the ball is.” (John Mahoney/Churchville-Chili)