Boys Soccer Top Player Preview: Mr. Soccer race is wide openSoccer  |
For perhaps the first time in years, the high school boys soccer scene does not have a small group of favorites for the Mr. Soccer Award, awarded annually by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association to the state’s top player.
As for spots on the 11-member Dream Team, there does not seem to be a consensus for that elite group, either. What we have is a solid cast of players throughout the state — many are being recruited, even by Division I schools — that were All-State last season or are garnering attention due to their stellar play during the first couple weeks of the season.
Much like the past four seasons, high school-aged athletes suiting up for one of the state’s club Academy-level programs through the Michigan Wolves or Vardar are not eligible for high school competition and have been removed from the top high school players list.
Below is a detailed list of players throughout the state that more than 200 high school and club coaches submitted of who to watch in 2016:
TOP FIELD PLAYERS TO WATCH (listed alphabetically)
MANA AHMED, Coldwater sr. F/M: After scoring 30 goals with nine assists last season, where he earned Division 2 All-State Second Team accolades for a 16-4-2 team, Ahmed has a growing reputation as a pure finisher. He can uncork a blistering shot from 40 yards out and has a knack for scoring in the clutch.
BEN AL-GHARABALLY, St. Clair sr. M: With scholarship offers coming in from University of Detroit, Oakland, Michigan and Michigan State, Al-Gharabally has made a name for himself without playing for a power conference team or in the Academy system. A three-time captain, he has a work ethic that is second to none and already ranks in the top five or owns multiple school scoring records. He can score on long-range, breakaways, headers off restarts or on his own free kicks. Named Division 2 All-State Second Team last season.
KYLE BANDYK, Novi sr. D/F: Committed to University of Detroit, Bandyk plays club ball for the Michigan Jaguars and is known for his versatility. He has spent a great deal of his prep career playing in the backfield at Novi, but will also see time at forward this season as he has shown the instincts of a finisher. Bandyk is a physical presence, a great ball-winner and can both finish and create chances for others.
KYLE DESANA, Grosse Ile sr. M: His team ventured to the Division 3 semifinals the past two seasons and DeSana earned All-State First Team status twice. The gifted center midfielder is a crafty playmaker who can play a major role on both ends of the pitch. DeSana plays club ball for the Michigan Wolves and is an ODP Region II pool player. He already has 10 assists on the young campaign.
RYAN DOORNBOS, Grand Rapids South Christian sr. M: After garnering All-State First Team honors for the Division 3 state champion Sailors, Doornbos is back as one of the best players in the Grand Rapids area. He had five goals last season but added 15 helpers which is his strong suit — finding open teammates. He will be South Christian’s engine, and its heart and soul.
ALEX GLOSHEN, Traverse City West sr. M: With two of the Titans’ forwards scoring over 20 goals apiece, Gloshen was one of the players getting the ball to those stalwarts. Last season, Gloshen had seven goals and 22 assists and earned Division 1 All-State Third Team status as a playmaker.
KYLE HAYES, Clarkston sr. M: Hayes earned Division 1 All-State Third Team honors as a sophomore, but took off his junior campaign to train with the Vardar Academy. He can control the ball in the middle, create for others and finish when given the opportunity.
AUSTIN HOBBS, Grand Blanc sr. M: Hobbs is a tireless worker in the middle of the field for the Bobcats. Hobbs has the ability to both score and get the ball to the right teammate, and has gained interest from multiple colleges around the Midwest.
ALEX KIM, Rochester Adams jr. D/F: Already gaining looks from Big Ten programs and a host of other Division I schools, Kim is as versatile as they come. Named All-State Third Team as a sophomore, put Kim in the back and he’s a lockdown defender. Place him up top at forward and he’s adept at finding the open man.
PABLO KULYCKYJ, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek sr. M: Kulyckyj ad a fine sophomore season but only played in four games last season due to a knee injury. He is crafty with the ball, has great vision and knows how to get the ball moving on the attack. Having him in the lineup of a young team will make a major difference for the Cougars.
COLE LARANSE, Saline sr. D: On both the high school and club circuit, Laranse “sticks out like a sore thumb” on the pitch, according to Saline coach Ryan Williams. He helped his Michigan Wolves club team to a state cup title this summer and aided Saline to a 16-4-4 ledger in 2015. At 6-2, Laranse is phenomenal in the air and does not get beat easily to the ball. He is considered one of the top defensive players in the state — a true ball-winner.
SAM LEBBIE, East Lansing sr. F: The next in line of many standout players to come through East Lansing’s stellar program, Lebbie earned Division 2 All-State Third Team accolades last season. Fast and powerful, Lebbie scored 20 goals last year and will shoulder the load up top once again.
DALTON MICHAEL, Traverse City West sr. F: Perhaps the highest ranked returning field player in Division 1, Michael plays at one speed — fast. Collecting 28 goals and 10 assists last season, Michael is tearing up the pitch this season and has garnered attention from many schools including Western Michigan. He was named to the All-State Second Team last season.
ADRIAN MILLING, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern sr. M: The top returning player for the defending Division 2 state champions, Milling is technically smooth with the ball and instinctively knows where to send the ball at all times. Milling plays club ball for the Midwest United and is shifting through college offers from several schools.
MOHAMED MIRI, Canton sr. F: One of several players on this list who has ODP Region II experience on their resume, Miri played on Canton’s state title team as a sophomore but missed his junior campaign with an injury. Miri tallied seven goals, including three game winners, during Canton’s 6-0-1 start to this season. He deploys great speed with the ball and rare pure finishing skills.
VAN NGUYEN, Plymouth sr. D: Another Michigan Wolves player who won a MSYSA State Cup title in 2016, Nguyen is a true winner on both the pitch and in the classroom. A tall, physical defender who carries a 4.0 GPA, Nguyen has a strong sense of how to play out of the back. Plays with a high soccer I.Q.
JOSH NOWAK, Tecumseh sr. M: An injury sidelined Nowak for part of last season, which led to his numbers falling to 14 goals and 12 assists after registering 15 goals and 30 assists as a sophomore. Still, Nowak is a two-time Division 2 All-State choice who earned Lenawee County Player of the Year last season after leading his team to a district title and a 10-1-3 record down the stretch. He’s one of the reasons why the Indians are off to their best start to date. He has the ability to both score and set up teammates and everything Tecumseh does offensively runs through Nowak.
CONNOR PICCOLO, Fraser sr. M: With his older brother, Justin Piccolo, gaining All-State First Team status two years ago, the younger sibling has been a part of Fraser’s resurgence the last four years and has built a reputation of being a standout in his own right. He is the type of player that commands the ball in the middle and commands attention from the opposition.
RYAN PIERSON, Detroit Catholic Central jr. M/F: Pierson is the type of player that has a knack for the goal, either finishing off chances are setting up teammates for the score. He’s one of the reasons why C.C. will again be a threat to challenge for the Division 1 state title. He’s a relentless worker and always on the move.
DEMETRI PLIAKOS, Rochester sr. M: The engine that make the Falcons’ engine go, Pliakos is a four-year starter and younger brother of former Dream Team honoree Spiro Pliakos. Crafty with the ball, Pliakos is one of the main reasons why Rochester is off to its best start in over a decade.
MATTHEW ROCKAFELLOW, Canton sr. D: Two straight trips to the Division 1 title game could not have been accomplished without stellar defensive play and Rockafellow is an experienced player in the Chiefs’ stingy backfield who simply gets the job done. Rockafellow is not flashy, just a shutdown defender who does not make many mistakes in the back.
MIKEY SCHWARTZ, Salem sr. M: Recruited by numerous Division I programs, Schwartz is very sound defensively and dynamic with the ball on the attack. He is another player whose stock has risen steadily over the past year.
JAYLEN SHANNON, St. Joseph jr. D: A Division I college recruit by some MAC schools, Shannon is developing into one of the top players from western Michigan At 6-3, Shannon can do it all; win balls in the air, command control in the backfield and push up into the attack on restarts.
LIRIM SHEFKIU, Mason sr. D/M: Last year his older brother, Leutrim Shefkiu, was runner-up for the Mr. Soccer award. Now the younger brother is a Division I recruit trying to make a name for himself. He has all the physical tools to demand attention on the pitch and he is quite versatile. Put him in the back and he is a lockdown central defender. Place him in the midfield and he can win balls and distribute. He’ll have an expanded role this season.
BRANDON SVORINIC, Freeland sr. F: Svorinic had his feet in it all, scoring 26 times with 11 helpers last season and was named Division 3 All-State First Team as well as being named Saginaw News Player of the Year. He had seven game-winning goals last season to showcase his game-breaking capabilities.
AUSTIN SWIECH, Jension sr. M: Although not hailing from a power school, Swiech’s stock is rising fast. Recently committing to Michigan, the talented playmaker entered the campaign with 24 goals and 33 assists to his career credit (17 assists as junior). The Midwest United product who also won two club state championship titles, Swiech earned Division 1 All-State Second Team honors as a junior.
JUSTIN TOBIN, Midland Dow sr. D: A four-year starter, Tobin is one of the top players in Mid-Michigan and led his team to a 15-7-2 ledger. He is a dominating, lock-down defender with tremendous instincts. Tobin commands the defensive line and rarely allows a ball to break through. He is garnering college interest from around the Midwest.
DREW VAN ANDEL, Grand Haven sr. D: At a towering 6-6, Van Andel won’t face too many players taller than him or more dominating in the air. He is productive on restarts and has scored multiple clutch and game-winning goals in his career thanks to his ability to win the ball off headers. He deploys great quickness for his size and is garnering Division I college interest.
ERIC WAHOSKI, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central sr. M: Named All-State Third Team as a junior after leading his school to its best-ever campaign, Wahoski is destined for greeter things as a senior. The Michigan Wolves playmaker racked up 26 helpers last season and hold the school marks for assists in a season and career. He has outstanding field vision which should land him on a college roster next year.
NOAH WALTER, Detroit Catholic Central sr. F/M: With a large amount of college prospects on the Shamrocks’ roster, Walter waited in the wings last season behind some other top-flight players that garnered postseason awards. Walter is already off to a flying start as one of C.C.’s go-to snipers. He has a knack for the goal.
CAMERON WILDE, Macomb Lutheran North jr. M: As a sophomore, Wilde earned All-State First Team accolades and has gained some Division I interest from some Horizon League and MAC schools. He is versatile enough to play most field positions with the ability to make the game-breaking play. He collected 22 goals and 12 assists last season and has collected points in bunches during the first couple of weeks of this season.
ROB WIST, Utica Ford II sr. F: Wist is fast, tenacious and has a knack of putting the ball in the back of the net. Wist can break loose and become a difference-maker in any game.
TRAVIS WOJZIK, Portage Northern sr. M: One of a dozen returnees for the Huskies this season, Wojzik is the player that controls the tempo and sets the pace for the attack. A relentless worker, the Division 1 All-State Third Team choice from last season is also garnering attention from Division I coaches and could be one of the state’s best set-up players from the midfield.
NIGEL ZION-BEATON, Belleville sr. D/F: Another player that hails from a non-power school, Zion-Beaton still turned enough heads to earn Division 1 All-State Third Team honors as a junior. With a 4.0 GPA, he is versatile enough to play up top or in the back with his sure-fire speed and technical balls skills.
HASTEN BIDDLECOME, Portage Northern sr.: As athletic as they come, Biddlecome, who also competes as a hurdler and sprinter in track, is starting to draw ingest from MAC schools, such as Western Michigan, plus a host of others. Biddlecome deploys great instincts and leaping ability to notch saves off shots that most high school keepers will not. He was Division 1 All-State Third Team last season after leading the Huskies to the quarterfinals.
DYLAN BROWN, Rochester Adams sr.: When Brown entered high school, the Highlanders’ returning keeper switched to the Vardar Academy, leaving a spot open. Brown snagged the opportunity and made the most of it. He is the only returning Division 1 All-State First Team selection this season. Colleges of all sizes have Brown on their radar because he knows how to win. He led Adams to the regional finals as a freshman, state finals as a sophomore and semifinals as a junior.
JAMIL CHAMI, Dearborn sr.: Already posting a game this season in which Chami recorded 19 saves, the Pioneers will compete against top level competition simply due to the fact that Chami has the ability to get to balls that most goalkeepers won’t get to. Chami is another player that should be a steal for a college program next year.
DEVIN MENDEZ, Tecumseh sr.: Headed to University of Detroit next season, Mendez took his junior season off of high school soccer to train with the Michigan Wolves Academy. After the first couple of weeks, Mendez has notched seven shutouts for a 9-1-1 team. He has twice made double digit saves against quality competition this season.
ALEC PILON, Freeland sr.: Another player that is catching the eyes of college recruits of different sized schools, Pilon was Division 3 All-State Third Team last season. He led the Falcons to the regional finals with a 0.97 goals-against-average and plus-.900 save percentage and has already had some highlight games this season that has placed him into the category of top keepers in Michigan.
BLAINE TEAHAN, Grand Ledge sr.: Both in the classroom and on the soccer pitch, everything screams top flight for Teahan and is one of the reasons why Grand Ledge should finally be on the soccer map this season. With a 4.0 GPA and 35 on his ACT, Teahan carries a high soccer I.Q. on the field where his is a Division I college recruit. At 6-3, Teahan has fine instincts and athletic ability that help him rise above the crop of quality keepers and into the elite group on the prep scene.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH
FORWARDS — Tyler Terhorst, Rockford sr.; Dylan Sing, Lakeshore soph.; Lucas Sammut, Holly sr.; Dante D’Aloisio, Milford sr.; Riley Buchalski, Burton Genesee Christian sr.; Donovan Michael, Traverse City West sr.; Nick Wright, Oxford sr.; Andre Eaton, Fraser jr.; Owen Killewald, Auburn Hills Avondale sr.; Ben Florkowski, Niles sr.; Gage Williams, Dowagiac jr.; Jake Sak, Elk Rapids sr.; Kevin Mazariegoa, Wyoming Godwin Heights sr.; David Cardinal, Grosse Ile jr.; Ricardo Vasquez, Paw Paw sr.; Chase Knoblock, Flint Powers sr.; Aaron Bowdrie, Monroe St. Mary CC sr.; Caleb Dupree, Burton Genesee Christian sr.; Dylan Mines, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian sr.; Lampton Kamali, Harbor Springs sr.; Jake Zuhlke, Marlette sr.; Ethan Groth, Royal Oak Shrine sr.; Jordan Steiner, Lincoln-Alcona jr.; Daniel Hartman, Dansville sr.; Noah Fetterolf, Leland sr.; Joe Claramunt, Harbor Springs sr.; Austin Nelson, Hartford sr.; Nolan Sullivan, Hillsdale Academy sr.; Nathaniel Pardo, Allen Park Inter-City Baptist sr.; Andrew Kangas, St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic sr.; Drew Sholler, Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port-Laker sr.; Nolan Reeve, Memphis sr.; Jack Jenkins, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian jr.; Payton Warner, Delton-Kellogg soph.; Armin Andelija, Livonia Clarenceville sr.; Micah Sonnenberg, Brooklyn Columbia Central soph.; Lenin Fierro, Manchester soph.; Callum Ashmore, Farmington jr.; Parker Brown, Monroe St. Mary CC sr.; Jacob Schram, Lapeer sr.; Samit Sami, Troy Athens jr.; Benjamin Besteman, Hudsonville jr.; Mike Melaragni, Stoney Creek jr.; Luke Kurili, Canton sr.; Jalen Rodriguez, Ionia sr.; Edwin Rodriguez, Detroit Western jr.; Munir Shareli, Haslett jr.; Justin Savona, Detroit Catholic Central sr.; Tyler Gayherst, Plainwell jr.; Adis Guric, East Kentwood jr.; Tristan Peafe, Mason jr.; Evan Mitchell, Warren DeLaSalle sr.; Jacob Sawicki, Grosse Ile soph.; Dawit Osburn, Allendale sr.; William Martinez, Hartford sr.; Jose Zambrano, Muskegon Catholic Central jr.; Justice Sikkema, North Muskegon sr.; Jordan Norfolk, Royal Oak Shrine sr.; Hernan Brada, Novi sr.; Justin Stack, Dearborn Divine Child sr.; Justin Schodowski, Macomb Dakota sr.; Ben McCauley, Northville sr.; Zachary Komejan, Northville sr.; Andrew Long, White Lake Lakeland sr.; Adam Dellavecchia, Novi jr.; Casey LaRue, Midland Dow jr.; Zach DeKock, GR South Christian sr.; Austin Murad, Wa