Western Wayne boys soccer players honored by the Lackawanna League
Western Wayne's boys varsity soccer team recently closed out a successful season on the Varden pitch.
The Wildcats powered their way to an overall record of 13-4-1. Coach Matt Fitzsimmons' squad also went 12-1-1 in the Lackawanna League, good for runner-up status in a loaded Division II.
“I had a lot of fun this season,” the veteran skipper said. “This is a really good group of kids. They worked hard all year, but we had a lot of fun too. They're a very coachable bunch.”
By virtue of their 13-win resume, the 'Cats earned a berth in this year's District Two tournament. Alas for local fans, Western Wayne ran into a red-hot Meyers club and suffered a 2-1 loss in the AA quarterfinals.
Despite this disappointing end to their campaign, the 'Cats were rewarded with six Lackawanna League all star selections.
Jamie Ashby, Cameron Johnson, Leonard Johnson, Gary Geinitz and Adam Bond were all named to the First Team, while Daniel Peral received Second Team recognition.
“Each one of those kids deserves to be an all star,” Coach Fitzsimmons said. “They all worked hard on their game from the very first day of practice. I'm proud of them.”
Western Wayne's 2018 season got off to something of a rough start.
The Wildcats absorbed a pair of losses to Lakeland in the opening week. The Chiefs went on to author an undefeated regular season, going 14-0 and winning the Division II title.
“Don't get me wrong: Lakeland very good, but I really would have liked to play them again at the end of the year,” said Coach Fitzsimmons. We were a much different team by then.”
The 'Cats also suffered a devastating roster blow when returning All Star Alex Amorine was lost for the season with a serious hamstring injury.
“I felt so bad for Alex,” Coach Fitzsimmons said. “There's no doubt in my mind that he was going to have another big year.”
And so, the Dean of Lackawanna League boys soccer coaches was forced to juggle his line-up … an exercise that eventually paid big dividends.
The Wildcats would go on to pile up 13 victories, at one point reeling off eight consecutive wins before a 1-1 tie at St. Gregory's.
According to Coach Fitzsimmons, his team's win over Forest City on October 1 ranks as one of the year's high water marks.
The Foresters eventually advanced to the District Two Class A finals, so they presented Western Wayne with a legitimate challenge.
Leonard Johnson hammered home two goals and carded a pair of assists in leading his team to a convincing 5-1 decision.
“Forest City had a very good team this year and I wasn't 100 percent sure how we'd match up with them,” he said. “But, the boys really came out strong. They played a great match from start to finish.
“Forest City's coach came up to me afterward and said' Hey, you guys are really good.'”
Ashby paced the offensive assault this fall.
A senior and transfer student from Canaan Christian Academy, Jamie notched a team-best 17 goals. He also handed out five assists to finish up with 39 points.
Cameron Johnson enjoyed a stellar season as well, notching 10 goals and recording a team-high 13 assists.
Conner Laity (12 goals), Dahlton Frisbie (seven goals) and Leonard Johnson (six goals) also contributed key plays along the way.
Defensively, Western Wayne's back line was anchored by its battle-tested keeper.
Geinitz recorded a pair of shutouts during the regular season. In addition, he allowed just a single goal o six occasions. Gary piled up a total of 119 saves
Western Wayne was one of the most-recognized squads in the Lackawanna League, earning five First Team All Star berths.
Geinitz is still just a junior and has already carved out a reputation as one of the elite keepers in the entire region. Gary is a talented multi-sport athlete who also excels as a member of the track team.
“Gary works year-round at his craft,” said Coach Fitzsimmons. “He's a very athletic kid. Gary is strong and aggressive and he has a little bit of an edge to him, which I really like.”
Bond started his senior season at an entirely different position, but moved to sweeper in the wake of Amorine's injury.
“Adam did a fantastic job,” Coach Fitzsimmons said. “He really deserved to be an all star. “Adam is one of those kids who'll do anything to help the team.”
Peral is a senior who functions largely as a defensive midfielder and earns high marks for his unselfish nature.
“We tried some new formations this year and Danny was just perfect for them,” Coach Fitzsimmons said. “He's the ultimate high school soccer player. He loves the game and works incredibly hard at it. I think Danny would make a great coach someday.”
Leonard Johnson is one of the fastest and quickest players in the league. The senior midfielder showed his versatility by starring on the back line as well.
“Leonard could play any position on the field and do it well,” said Coach Fitzsimmons. “He has a big leg. and our most powerful outside shot.”
Cameron Johnson joined his brother to form a potent 1-2 punch in the midfield. However, Johnson was such an offensive asset that he also saw significant time at forward.
“By the end of the season, Cameron was playing some of the best soccer of his entire high school career,” said Coach Fitzsimmons. “Cameron is tenacious and fearless like a pit bull.”
Ashby was one of the Wildcats' leading scorers as a junior, but suffered a knee injury at the end of the year. He returned to action this fall after re-habbing from surgery and quickly revved back up to 100 percent.
The highlight of Ashby's senior campaign was a four goal outburst at Elk Lake.
“Jamie is a real ball hawk,” Coach Fitzsimmons said. “He's a very knowledgable player and just a nice kid. It's been a pleasure coaching him.”