The Press Newspaper
Lake's boys’ soccer team didn't win the Suburban Lakes League title, and the Flyers didn't have the same shiny record they had in 2008.
Lake did, however, have the best player in the league in junior attacker Bryant Philo. The SLL coaches voted Philo, who had a team-high 22 goals and 15 assists, as the league's player of the year for 2009.
"It was more shocking than anything because of all the other great players in the league," Philo said of winning the award. "There were a lot of other good players along with our team. It was surprising. I thought I had a pretty good season. Our team in general had a pretty good season."
The Flyers finished 8-4-5 and 2-3-3 in the SLL under second-year coach Chad Lillich, who is Philo's father. League coaches, however, are not allowed to vote for their own players in the player-of-the-year voting.
"You put the player up (for nomination) and everybody else has to vote on them," Lillich said.
The Flyers, who were 15-5-1 a year ago, lost to Port Clinton 3-2 in the Division II sectional tournament on Oct. 21 at Lake.
Philo's season assist total was second on the team behind junior midfielder and fellow co-captain Drew Metz, who dished out a school-record 28 assists. Metz was also a first-team All-SLL pick.
Philo became the first Lake boy to earn the league's top individual honor.
"There are a lot of good players in the league, and a lot of times it's not always the guy with the good stats (who wins the award)," Lillich said. "Last year he played midfield and had a good season. The league has a lot of good players, so anybody could have won it this year.
"We moved him to forward because we lost our other striker. Bryant moved up and Drew Metz moved from outside midfielder to center midfielder. It worked out great. Both of them had their career highs. Last season, Bryant only had seven goals and 22 assists. Last year, Drew had 19 assists and that went to 28 this season."
Philo, a three-year starter, also plays for the Toledo Celtics, who play most of their matches in the Cleveland area.
"He has enough speed, a great first touch and he hits the ball pretty hard and is pretty accurate," Lillich said. "He gives us some size up top that we don't have a lot of. He works hard and has a hard shot. He has good foot skills and is a good team leader."
The 5-9, 145-pound Philo, 16, who has been playing soccer for 10 years, said moving from midfield, where he was a first-team all-league selection last season, to the forward position wasn't a big deal.
"My whole life I've been playing all over the field," he said, "so I'm used to different positions. I was distributing the ball as a forward and shooting the ball, and that was an all right transition. It was something I had to work on at the beginning of the season and it worked out well."
Said Lillich, "Toward the end of the season he faced a lot of double coverage. It took a lot of the pressure off some of the other players up top. We had a pretty young team. We're only graduating four kids (Scott Hartman, Nick Byrd, Zack Sarka and Tim Metz)."
The Flyers started three freshmen this season and will add a few more first-year players in 2010.
"I think we'll do better next year," Philo said. "We will have experience with the same people and we're learning to play with each other. The more you play with each other, the more you know how to play. I'm looking forward to next year."
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