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 Sophomore Boys’ Starting XI:
Defender, Churchville-Chili Saints (Monroe County II)
All-County performer: Steadying backline presence, Bailey makes sure contact on first touch and makes sound decisions when to clear and when to start offense, disciplined and moves well with unit; offensive threat with overlapping runs done responsibly and within structure of team need.
Midfielder, Hornell Red Raiders (LCAA I)
All-County performer and Class B Second Team All-State selection: Active in the middle third, Emo creates well for teammates, sees diagonal passes and possesses the skill to execute, dangerous threat from 25 yards-in; a willing defender who consistently stops the progression of the ball.
Midfielder, Batavia Blue Devils (Monroe County IV)
All-County performer: Tireless in the middle third, Halpin consistently impacts the game, adept in combinations, he has a keen awareness of when to use one-touch and when the situation dictates more, allows the game to come to him; defensively he tracks the ball well and understands the value of containment.
Midfielder, Bath-Haverling Rams (LCAA I)
All-County performer: Effective player along the outer third, Hoad understands how to use sidelines to stretch the field and provides a wall for teammates to keep play moving, sturdily-built with a confident touch he frequently gets to the end line for crosses, can be counted upon to score.
Attacker East Rochester Bombers (Wayne County)
Fleet-footed offensive performer with keen instincts; combining foot speed with a low center of gravity McCoy is a threat that opposing defenses have to take into account at all times, still scratching at the surface of his abilities, McCoy can cover a wide amount of territory and do it under control, he is difficult to mark one-on-one especially when a ball is played to him in full stride.
Attacker, Spencerport Rangers (Monroe County II)
All-County performer: Aggressive frontline player who is capable of breaking down the defense off the dribble, but is at his best receiving in full stride and making decisions with the defense in retreat, effective first touch that forces opponents to commit early; responsible with checking back to stop opposing progression.
Defender, Brighton Bruins (Monroe County II)
All-County performer: Dependable influence along the outer third, Piccone makes consistent plays with first touch, not afraid to clear the ball when the situation dictates but also keeps opponents honest with his ability to advance the ball off the dribble, sees the field well and is capable of initiating the offense from the backline.
Defender, Wayne Eagles (Finger Lakes East)
Key contributor to a Wayne defense that compiled 11 shutouts this season; uniquely composed for a sophomore, possessing a sure first touch he understands when to clear and when to create and can do so with either foot, understands the value of a system and allows his strengths to flourish within a structure.
Center back, Aquinas Li’l Irish (Independent)
Ball-getter, Shabani always manages to be a part of the play, high-motor with elite skillset and field vision, he consistently wins possession and provides the opportunity to produce on the offensive end, can create for self but at his best getting teammates in spots where they can best convert; steps to the ball with conviction but does not over-commit, sees one play ahead and moves on the flight of the ball.
DANIEL VAN ARDT
Midfielder, Fairport Red Raiders (Monroe County I)
Sturdily-built slasher, van Ardt is difficult to keep from where he wants to go, strong first touch and powerful finish, he thrives on contact and is fearless going into a crowd, uses sturdy frame to finish on set pieces, footspeed allows him to get separation in the open field; a willing defender who commits to shape and structure, placing a value on containment rather than over-playing looking for steal.