After a season in which Lorain County produced two district champions and four all-Ohio first-team players, the area’s coaches faced one of their toughest challenges when they gathered to vote for the annual all-county teams and players of the year.
On Wednesday, the Lorain County Soccer Coaches Association had the chance to recognize its award winners with a ceremony at the Elyria High Performing Arts Center.
Avon goalkeeper Maggie Beatty and Midview midfielder/forward Colleen Benton shared the girls Division I Player of the Year award.
Beatty had nine shutouts for the second year in a row as the Eagles won their second consecutive district title.
“I was really surprised to be named player of the year,” said Beatty, who will play soccer next fall at Stetson University. “I don’t recall hearing of another goalkeeper winning it so I was taken aback, but I was really happy. The past two years have been really fun, playing with my best friends and making new friends with the freshmen and sophomores. I know the Avon team is only going to keep getting stronger.”
Benton scored 15 goals this season and was a part of Midview teams that compiled a 38-11-5 record over the past three years.
“It was really cool when I found out I was Player of the Year,” she said. “I was really happy and thankful for it. When my class came in we were all really motivated to work together and do better each season. We all had a goal in mind. We saw success and wanted to keep it going.”
After being named to the all-Ohio first team a few days ago, Avon goalkeeper and Tiffin recruit Dylan Morris made it a clean sweep for the Eagles by being named the boys’ Division I Player of the Year.
Other all-Ohio first-teamers who earned player of the year honors were Vermilion’s Zack Kelly (boys Division II co-Player of Year), Wellington’s Cole McLean (boys Division III) and Elyria Catholic’s Ryan Kunkle (girls Division III). All four are seniors.
Kelly set the single-season and career records for goals and assists for Vermilion.
“It feels great to win all of these awards and be known as one of the best players around, but honestly I couldn’t have done it without my team,” said Kelly, who was also recently named the North Central district Player of the Year and the Sandusky Bay Conference Most Outstanding Performer. “I’m sort of glad I’m able to step back for a minute, enjoy this, take a breath and get ready for bigger and better things. During the year, I was always taking everything one game at a time, focusing on the little things. Everything played out well and I’m really happy with the career I had at Vermilion.”
Kunkle was the Panthers’ leading scorer with 42 goals and a key member of a team that won the school’s first district championship since 2014. She played in her second regional final this season.
Brookside’s Owen Rozanc shared the Division II Player of the Year award with Kelly. Rozanc, who set the Cardinals’ career scoring record with 59 goals, had 27 goals and 18 assists this season as Brookside advanced to the district semifinals. He was also the Patriot Athletic Conference MVP.
“I know there are a lot of good players in the county, so to be recognized as player of the year is a great feeling,” Rozanc said. “We’ve only gone to the district semifinals once before so it was really nice to do it again. There’s not a better feeling in the world. When I come back to Brookside in 10 or 15 years, it won’t be like, ‘Oh, you broke a bunch of records,’ people are going to remember we made a deep run in the playoffs.”
Rozanc, who was also one of the area’s top kickers on the football field, is weighing offers to play both college soccer and football.
“I’m not 100 percent decided what I want to do,” he said. “I do love soccer but kicking footballs is also a thing I love. (Brookside football coach Paul) Ferguson taught me great things about kicking and gave me an opportunity and it really opened up a bunch of doors for me.”
Firelands junior Isabel Solowiej was the only underclassman to win a Player of the Year award and the only defender to be honored.
Two first-year coaches — Avon girls coach Attlia Csiszar and Avon Lake boys coach Pete Klepek — won the Division I Coach of the Year awards. Klepek shared his award with North Ridgeville’s George Panagiotou, who guided the Rangers to one of their best seasons in recent memory.
Keystone boys coach Kevin Graham and Firelands girls coach Kevin Ziegler were the Division II Coaches of the Year.
Wellington’s Andrew Lara (boys) and David Leigh (girls) swept the Division III coaching awards.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.