PREBLE COUNTY — Boys soccer in the county this season wasn’t very glamorous, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some outstanding individuals on the soccer fields this fall.
Eaton was able to rally late in the season, winning in the first round of the tournament for the first time in several years. They are under new (or old) direction of Matt Money, the man responsible for starting the soccer program at the school in the late ‘80s.
Through his tutelage and leadership, the team produced competitive soccer. Their record may not indicate it – they finished 4-10-3 overall and 1-8-3 in the SWBL – but their roster was consistently depleted by injuries and often defined by their youth.
There was one solid, consistent rock for the Eagles all season, however, and that is the play from their junior defender Daniel Howard.
He only had one goal and two assists on the year, but he anchored a defense that pitched three shut outs – including the first round of the tournament against Franklin – as well as proved to be a valuable leader for his teammates.
“He’s the heart and soul of our team in terms of work ethic and fitness,” said head coach Matt Money. “He’s very technical in his ability. He reads the game very well, makes good decisions with the ball, he attacks space when he has the ball at his feet – he can get forward at center back and distribute. He can also be dangerous after he distributes if a service is made or through ball is made.”
It’s because of his level of play and the value to his team that Howard is The Register-Herald’s Player of the Year. Howard also earned first team honors for the SWBL as well.
Joining him on the first team is Howard’s younger brother, James Howard. He was the offensive firepower for the Eagles all season, scoring eight goals and tallying six assists on the year. He was named second team All-SWBL.
“He’s not afraid to take on people. He creates space, attacks, and gets shots off. He’s a very dangerous player when the ball is on his foot,” said Money.
Nathan Gard, the Howard brothers’ teammate, also makes the cut. Gard was an SWBL honorable mention and played midfield, earning one goal and three assists on the year.
“He’s our playmaker. He understands the game. He has swagger type moves to lure defenders away from the ball for the direction he is going,” said Money. “He works all the time on defense.”
Joining those three Eagle players is Shawnee’s goalkeeper Alec Hacker, who was also a first team All-SWBL in the Buckeye Division this year.
According to head coach Mason Kuykendoll, Hacker was number one in the state with over 200 saves this season.
“He is the leader for our team and the reason we didn’t get blown out of every game this year,” said Kuykendoll.
Kole Monebrake, a senior forward for the Arrows, also makes the cut. He was a second team All-SWBL selection and was a good distributor of the ball.
“He was a huge presence in front of the goal this year. He had many more assists than goals and his speed and aggressiveness made him a key player,” said Kuykendoll.
Rounding out Shawnee’s team for the All-County selection is Chucky Short, a senior defender who started the season at midfield. Short was an All-SWBL honorable mention this year.
“He has a great foot for long free kicks and a killer arm for throw ins,” said Kuykendoll. “He has great vision of the field and can put the ball wherever you need it to go.”
Twin Valley South sported the best overall record in the county this season, nearing the .500 win total. Jacob Wells was a key reason for that, leading the team in scoring for the past two years, according to head coach Eric Staggs. He was also a first team All-CCC selection.
Tri-County North managed one conference win this year but remained competitive in a lot of contest. They were helped out by in large part by Jarod Isaacs, a freshman striker for the Panthers.
He had nine goals and five assists no the year.
“He is the smallest guy on our team this year but plays like he is the biggest and didn’t stop till the end,” said head coach Alan Bell.
He is joined by Jacob Isaacs, a captain and sophomore who played center-mid for North. He had one goal and nine assists on the year.
“He’s very smart and aware player with skills to utilize opportunities,” said Bell.
Rounding out the All-County selection are two players from National Trail.
First is Tyler Browning, who was the number one goalie in the CCC and selected to the conferences first team honors. He finished the year with 243 saves in 11 games.
Jordan Clark, the Blazers forward, was an All-CCC honorable mention and had three goals and one assist on the season.
Brandon Mohamed, Junior, Eaton; Grant Sullender, Sophomore, Eaton; Jacob Couvutsakis, Senior, Eaton; J.T. Sims, Senior, Preble Shawnee; Cole Michael, Senior, Preble Shawnee; Bailey Hedge, Senior, Preble Shawnee; Collin Whipp, Freshman, Tri-County North.