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South Williamsport’s Hayden Swinehart earns Player of the Year honor in boys soccer

SUN-GAZETTE FILE PHOTO South Williamsport's Hayden Swinehart (10) celebrates scoring against Sullivan County in 2020. Swinehart scored 30 goals this year to earn Sun-Gazette Boys Soccer Player of the Year honors.

When asked about senior Hayden Swinehart, South Williamsport coach Chris Vanaskie had to pause for a moment to collect his thoughts on how to accurately describe such a standout player. As the cold wind blew by that early November evening at Loyalsock after a district semifinal game against Lewisburg, Vanaskie took a few seconds.

“I’m speechless in describing everything that he means to this team,” Vanaskie said. “He’s a leader, he’s a motivator. Obviously he’s a very skilled goal scorer.”

Add all of that together, and you have the type of talented player that Swinehart is, and his stellar senior campaign earned him Sun-Gazette Boys Soccer Player of the Year honors. He’s the first Mountie to earn the award since Hunter Rosenberg earned the honor in 2011.

Others considered for the award include Williamsport forward Jimmy Pombor, Hughesville forward Nick Trevouledes and Lewisburg goalie Tony Burns

“Obviously he’s a very skilled goal scorer. He developed his game a lot between sophomore and junior year and kind of took things up another level (this year),” Vanaskie said. “To continue that into the season and go back-to-back years with 30-plus goals is impressive and nothing I’ve been a part of before. It’s been a lot of fun watchimg him.”

And any South Williamsport fan will tell you how much fun Swinehart is to watch on the field. The forward, who earned Mid-Penn honors this year, was a huge reason South Williamsport had one of its best seasons recently by going 14-3 and appearing in the District 4 Class AA semifinals. Swinehart put up a remarkable 30 goals and 10 assists, averaging 1.8 goals per game and 0.6 assists.

He was a player that defenses needed to key in on and limit, and more times than not, teams weren’t able to neutralize him.

“To be named Player of the Year, to me, is a sign of my hard work paying off,” Swinehart said. “It obviously took more than just me to get this award. My coaches and teammates helped me tremendously in winning this award.”

“Scoring 30 goals and having 10 assists were definitely numbers that I was shooting for. In that role that I have on my team, I am constantly around the ball and I am confident in taking anyone on or playing any pass,” Swinehart added. “So I had many opportunities to have goal contributions. I am not surprised by these numbers, just grateful for the opportunities I had to score and assist.”

Any team that played South Williamsport put multiple defenders on Swinehart to mark him, but Swinehart never got frustrated. He simply kept working and playing his game and it paid off with multiple goals. And having that much defensive pressure on him fueled him and was a challenge he more than embraced.

“I think last year he didn’t see as much attention, this year everybody knew about him. He faced a lot of man marking. He faced a lot of teams coming up with certain tactics to shut him down,” Vanaskie said. “The fact he was still able to come up with 30 goals is impressive.”

A telling statistic to how valuable Swinehart was: the senior Mountie was held scoreless in just three games this year, and they were all games in which South Williamsport ended up losing.

“I have always looked at getting double teamed as more flattering than frustrating,” Swinehart said. “Obviously it is still frustrating at times to not be able to do what I want with the ball, but my coaches constantly kept telling me to be patient and it will come, and it certainly did.”

Swinehart also finished as the second all-time scorer in South Williamsport history, behind only former great Logan Yerger (127 from 2007-10).

“The stuff he does off the ball, his movement and his communication, we wouldn’t be the same team without him,” Vanaskie said. “We wouldn’t have the same attacking threat without him. He creates a lot of chances not only for himself, but for the team. It’s not always just his play on the ball, it’s his communication and his movement. The strength that he has developed over the last couple of years with not only his speed, but his actual finishing ability has been impressive.”

COACHES OF THE YEAR

Ben Kettlewell, Lewisburg and Chris Vanaskie, South Williamsport

Lewisburg lost a good amount from its 2020 state championship team, but give credit to Kettlewell and Lewisburg, he never doubted what the Green Dragons could accomplish. Lewisburg won its third consecutive District 4 championship reached the state semifinals for the third consecutive season and made it to the PIAA Class AA championship for the second straight year. Lewisburg may have lost to Quaker Valley in the state title game, but don’t let that diminish what this team accomplished under Kettlewell.

Vanaskie took over South Williamsport’s program in 2017 and the team won two games that year and four games the next. Vanaskie has done a great job getting the Mounties on the right track and it paid off this year with South’s first district semifinal appearance since 2011 and most wins (14) since that season as well.

Others considered: Eric Yoder, Milton; Lee Kaar, Williamsport; Bryan Pauling, Montoursville; Ian Scheller, Loyalsock.

SUN-GAZETTE BOYS SOCCER ALL-STAR TEAM

ALEX BROWN, WARRIOR RUN, FORWARD

Warrior Run’s season ended in the District 4 Class AA playoffs to eventual semifinalist South Williamsport, but Brown did a lot to get the Defenders into the postseason. He played all 16 games for Warrior Run and finished with 24 goals scored — 1.5 per game — and had seven assists. He was a second-team HAC-II forward.

PHILIP PERMYASHKIN, LEWISBURG, FORWARD

Permyashkin emerged early on in the season as a scoring threat for Lewisburg and defenses weren’t able to completely shut him down. He led the Green Dragons in both goals (18) and assists (13) and was a big reason Lewisburg’s offense flourished throughout the year.

CARTER LILLEY, MILTON, FORWARD

Lilley was a first-team HAC-II all-star selection at forward. Lilley, a senior, helped the Black Panthers’ offense explode this year. He scored a team-high 23 goals and had 14 assists, second on the team to only teammate Dominic Ballo (18). Lilley averaged 1.2 goals and 0.7 assists per game as Milton went 16-3-1, won the HAC-II league title and reached the District 4 Class AA quarterfinals.

JACK POIRIER, WELLSBORO, FORWARD

If Wellsboro scored a goal, there’s a very solid chance Poirier either put it in or dished one out. The Green Hornet was a first-team Northern Tier League all-star at forward this year. He ended the season leading Wellsboro in both goals scored (24) and assists (17) and averaged 1.4 goals per game and 1.0 assists per game.

CAIDEN ALEXANDER, NORTH PENN-LIBERTY, MIDFIELD

Alexander ended the year as a 50-goal scorer for North Penn-Liberty (58) and was a huge piece of North Penn-Liberty’s offense. He was a first-team Northern Tier League forward this year and was one of just two Liberty players to earn NTL all-star honors. Offensively, Alexander accounted for 24 goals as he had 17 goals and seven assists. Or 64.8% of North Penn-Liberty’s offense.

JIMMY POMBOR, WILLIAMSPORT, MIDFIELD

The 50-goal scorer helped Williamsport reach the District 2-4 Class AAAA playoffs this season and not only was named a HAC-I first-team midfielder, but also earned HAC-I Player of the Year honors this season. The senior Millionaire scored 16 goals and had 11 assists this year, both team highs, and are perhaps even more impressive given Pombor was injured most of the second half of the year.

NICK TREVOULEDES, HUGHESVILLE, MIDFIELD

Trevouledes put up a great senior year and had a team-high 17 goals. He earned first-team HAC-I all-star honors as a forward and finished second all-time in scoring with the Spartans with 76, behind only Austin Lewis’s 87.

CARTER HOOVER, LEWISBURG, MIDFIELD

Hoover was the area’s only player to earn all-state honors, and if you watched his play throughout the season you would see why. Hoover was an important piece for the Green Dragons, who made it to the PIAA Class AA championship game, losing in a shootout to Quaker Valley. Hoover helped control the midfield for Lewisburg and made things difficult for opposing forwards.

ZACH KREISHER, LEWISBURG, DEFENDER

Lewisburg always has absolutely remarkable defenses year in and year out, and 2021 was surely no exception to that. The Green Dragons allowed just 15 goals all year, and Kreisher was a huge reason why the defense was so rock solid. He earned first-team HAC-I accolades as a defender and helped Lewisburg post 15 shutouts.

LOGAN OGDEN, SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, DEFENDER

South Williamsport averaged just a goal per game this year and Ogden was a huge reason why on the back line. The senior was a Mid-Penn first-team defender. Ogden helped South allow just 17 goals en route to a 14-3 season.

EVAN BEITER, WILLIAMSPORT, DEFENDER

Beiter garnered HAC-1 second-team all-star honors as a defender and the junior was solid for the Millionaires. Beiter helped the defense play well. Exhibit A: holding a potent Lewisburg team to just one goal in the regular season.

SETH YODER, MILTON, DEFENDER

Yoder was a first-team HAC-II all-star selection as a defender and helped the Black Panthers’ defense allow just 1.2 goals per game. The Black Panthers lost just three games, and in its 20 games, opposing teams scored two or more goals just six times.

TONY BURNS, LEWISBURG, GOALKEEPER

Burns was an absolute wall in goal for the Green Dragons. Not many teams fired a lot of shots against Lewisburg, but when they did, Burns came up big time and time again to block then. He ended this season with 15 shutouts and finished with 48 for his career.

SECOND TEAM

F–Connor Poole, Williamsport

F–Alfred Romano, Lewisburg

F–Dominick Pulizzi, Montoursville

F–Bode Hart, Muncy

M–Owen Kaar, Williamsport

M–Matt O’Malley, Loyalsock

M–Ben Manning, South Williamsport

M–Nate Brinker, Central Mountain

D–Peyton McClure, Wellsboro

D–Peter Bellomo, Jersey Shore

D–Mason Winslow, Montoursville

D–Nate McCormack, Warrior Run

GK–Eli Slamka, Muncy

HONORABLE MENTION

(in alphabetical order)

Nick Bellomo, Jersey Shore, F; Andrew Boll, Williamsport, M; Loudon Boring, Muncy, M/F; Brody Burleigh, N.P.-Liberty, D; Connor Cornelius, Jersey Shore, M; Reese Dieffenderfer, Lewisburg, F; Eli Edkin, Hughesville, M; Bryan Fitzgerald, Sullivan; Wyatt Fry, Montoursville, M; Austin Gainer, Milton, M; Brayden Gardner, Loyalsock, F; Aiden Gehman, Wellsboro, GK; Stephen Gohr, Williamson, F; Gabe Harvey, South Williamsport, M/F; Trey Higley, Sullivan, D; Peyton Jones, Central Mountain, F; Caleb Kim, Lewisburg, D; Riley King, Sullivan, M/F; Zach Lake, Williamsport, M; Mason Lauchle, Montoursville, GK; Caden Malek, Central Mountain, F; Luke Mattox, Warrior Run, M; Brady Morral, Wellsboro, D; Logan Ohl, Muncy; Lucas Pearson, Loyalsock, D; Ben Potter, Warrior Run, F; Sam Radulski, Williamsport, GK; Andrew Reed, Loyalsock, D; Rowan Revata, Muncy, M; Matt Richards, Wellsboro, F; Owen Richardson, Wellsboro, M; Sam Rudy, Wellsboro, F; Brody Scoggins, Milton, F; Gabe Severn, Loyalsock, F; Kayvan Shams, South Williamsport, M; Owen Sherman, Montgomery, F/M; Caiden Smith, Wellsboro, M; Conner Smith, Milton, F; Kragen Smith, Hughesville, D; Conner Sullivan, Loyalsock, M; Brock Weaver, South Williamsport, GK; Taylor Weaver, Central Mountain, D; Ethan Woolcock, Hughesville, D; Evan Yoder, Milton, M.

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