Lewisburg’s Joey Bhangdia named Boys Player of Year
If you were to watch the boys soccer Class AA state championship game on replay, you wouldn’t have had any idea that senior Joey Bhangdia was playing with a hurt ankle.
You’d have no clue that he played all year through nagging injuries and was in a lot of pain during warm-ups in the state final this past Saturday.
But that shows the type of player Bhangdia is. He wants to compete and help out his team, and this postseason alone, Bhangdia proved just how talented he was.
Bhangdia was named The Sun-Gazette’s Boys Soccer Player of the Year for the third consecutive season. Others considered for the honor include Wellsboro’s Josiah Hill, Jersey Shore’s Jacob Butzler, Warrior Run’s Cody Rogers and Lewisburg’s Adam Cole.
Bhangdia ended his senior season with 25 goals and nine assists, however perhaps more impressive is that of those 25 goals, 11 came in seven postseason games. He was also named all-state for the second consecutive year.
The Green Dragon senior ended his career with 117 goals, third most all-time in District 4 boys soccer history, behind only Sayre’s Taylor Skerpon and South’s Logan Yerger, respectively.
Lewisburg scored 21 goals in the playoffs and Bhangdia had a hand — or rather a foot — in 17 of them.
“Early in season I definitely struggled with a couple injuries, but toward the end of the season and as you said postseason, I really think I stepped up my game,” Bhangdia said. “I did what I had to do. I did my part I think.”
The senior definitely always did his part when he’s on the field.
Take the state final for instance. With a defender not far behind him, Bhangdia still managed to draw the goalie toward the right post and fire the goal to the far post. He doesn’t rush his shots, but tries to make the best out of his opportunities.
Consider too those 25 goals came while battling through various injuries. And those 11 postseason goals came on a hurt ankle that may have sidelined others.
“I don’t think anybody appreciates just how injured Joey is. … He has played through nagging injury after nagging injury,” Lewisburg coach Skip Kratzer said after winning the state final against Quaker Valley. “He was in an extreme amount of pain coming onto this field during warm-ups. What can I say about a guy like that? He gave it everything he’s got. He laid his heart and soul on line for us. Just proud of him.”
Just being on the field draws multiple defenders constantly marking Bhangdia, trying to contain the Penn-committed senior. And more times than not, Bhangdia found a way. And even if he can’t score a goal, the fact defenses key in on him allow others on team, like Adam Cole for instance, to step up.
“It definitely opens up space for my teammates,” Bhangdia said. “I think we work well with that.”
Bhangdia was the type of player that if he got any sort of throughball, fans held their breath waiting to see if he was going to drill a shot for a goal.
SUN-GAZETTE BOYS SOCCER FIRST TEAM
Josiah Hill, Wellsboro, forward
Hill played one of the best individual seasons around, scoring 41 goals, which broke the school record for goals in a season, which was a record he set last year. Hill led the Sun-Gazette coverage area in hat tricks with six and was a NTL all-star selection at forward. Hill was a constant threat up top and helped open things up for his teammates.
Jacob Butzler, Jersey Shore, forward
Butzler had a solid season this year, nearly breaking the school’s all-time scoring record, coming up just shy. Butzler scored 18 goals this year and was part of a senior class that made four postseason trips for Jersey Shore after the program only had one before that run. Butzler was a second-team HAC-I all-star selection and was a threat teams had to pay attention to up top.
Cody Rogers, Warrior Run, forward
Rogers put up a great season this year for the Defenders, scoring 26 goals and 15 assists. His 26 goals are the most in a single-season for Warrior Run since Elias George in 2013 (35). Rogers was a HAC-III first-team forward and was a huge part of the Defenders’ success this season getting to the District 4 Class AA quarterfinals.
Adam Cole, Lewisburg, midfield
Cole was overshadowed a bit by Penn-committ Joey Bhangdia, but don’t think that doesn’t mean his talent went unrecognized. Cole was a HAC-I first-team midfield selection. He was second on the Green Dragons with 21 goals and scored his 50th career goal during the season.
Michael Gonzalez, South Williamsport, midfield
Gonzalez was a first-team HAC-III selection and was solid in the midfield for the Mounties. Gonzalez put up eight goals and seven assists for South Williamsport and was a solid combination alongside teammate Donovan Killian as scoring threats at South. When he wasn’t scoring though, Gonzalez did well at controlling the midfield.
Jordan Morrison, Warrior Run, midfield
Morrison was a first-team HAC-III all-star selection and was part of a “three-headed monster” for the Defenders scoring-wise. Morrison put up 14 goals and 18 assists and helped create numerous chances alongside teammates Cody Rogers and Hunter Confair. Morrison also played well all year in the midfield for Warrior Run.
Wilson Fisher, Lewisburg, defender
Lewisburg had one of the toughest defenses in all of the state and Wilson Fisher was a huge reason why. In addition to shutting players down, Fisher returned after an injury in the district championship and made an impact right away. Coach Skip Kratzer mentioned how Fisher helped direct those players in front of him into positions and makes solid plays infront of the goal. Fisher was a HAC-I first-team selection.
Will Brock, Lewisburg, defender
Brock helped anchor that Lewisburg defense alongside teammate Wilson Fisher and it proved to be a tough unit to score against, as the Green Dragons only yielded eight goals through 25 games. Brock was named HAC-I first team at defender. Brock also had a part, like his teammate Wilson Fisher, in recording 18 shutouts.
Lukas Radulski, Williamsport, defender
Radulski helped solidify Williamsport’s defense and was the only Millionaires’ defender to garner HAC-I first-team honors. Radulski moved from left mid to center back and as Williamsport coach Lee Kaar said: “clearly put, without him, we don’t do nearly as well as we did this year.” Radulski also had four assists and helped keep opposing threats at bay.
Ryan Stough, Wellsboro, defender
A first-team Northern Tier League defender, Stough was a solid part of the Green Hornets’ defense this year. Stough helped Wellsboro’s defense make it tough for opponents as the Green Hornets only gave up 27 goals all season and made it back the districts.
J.R. Confair, Williamsport, goalie
Confair was a first-team HAC-I all-star selection at goalie, and his play shows why. He made 114 saves and only allowed 22 goals as Williamsport captured its first district championship since 1995. Confair also posted nine shutouts, two in district play.
F-Kolachi Pombor, Williamsport
F-Austin Lewis, Hughesville
F-Donovan Killian, South Williamsport
M-Connor Anderson, Jersey Shore
M-Sam Hillman, Williamsport
M-Dan Hall, Muncy
D-Aaron Orgitano, South Williamsport
D-Sam Rosevear, Lewisburg
D-Jacob Corson, Jersey Shore
D-Ethan Lazorka, Montoursville
GK-Ryan Ehmann, Lewisburg
(In alphabetical order)
Brent Artley, Milton, D; Tyler Askey, South Williamsport, GK; Ben Babakov, Milton, F; Davis Baylor, Lewisburg, M; Hunter Cass, Williamson, D; Hunter Crawley, South Williamsport, M; Andrew Czap, Loyalsock, F; Joe Daniels, Sullivan County, D; Tiarnan Ferry, Williamsport, M; Seth Griggs, Montoursville, D; Tucker Hays, Warrior Run, GK; Colin Heilbrun, Williamson, F; Aaron Hennigan, Jersey Shore, D; Casey Hoover, Wellsboro, GK; Ben King, Montoursville, GK; Zach Kratzer, Lewisburg, M; Josh Kula, Montoursville, M; Kylan Kurtz, Warrior Run, D; Sean Kurtz, South Williamsport, D; Gabe Leach, Wellsboro, M; Andrew Learn, Williamson, M; Cole Lesher, Hughesville, D; Calvin Lesser, Jersey Shore, GK; Brian Lewis, Sullivan County, M; Nate Liscum, Lewisburg, M; Matt Loeh, Loyalsock, GK; Austin Martin, Loyalsock, D; Gabe McKeon, Williamsport, M; Colton Miller, Jersey Shore, F: Tom Pombor, Williamsport, M; Tanner Runyan, Wellsboro, F; Dean Seman, South Williamsport, M; Nick Sharayko, Hughesville, F: Lucas Shultz, Sullivan County, F; Austin Stipcak, Muncy, GK; Zach Stopper, Loyalsock, F; Cameron Tennis, Wellsboro, D; Collin Warburn, Warrior Run, M; Ayden Yoder, Milton, M.
–All-star team by Jon Gerardi and Devin Bierly