Season Summary 2011-12
It was a beautiful season of playing the beautiful game for the Western Reserve Academy boys soccer team in 2011.
The Pioneers finished 16-2-1, winning the Tri-County League championship outright for the first time since 2006. Along the way, the team beat perennial state powerhouses Hawken, St. Vincent-St. Mary, Walsh Jesuit and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in the same season for the first time since 2000. They also finished ranked No. 3 in the state in Division III, one point behind Worthington Christian, which won the state title this year.
“I knew we were going to be good coming into the season, but I didn’t think we were going to be as strong as we ended up being,” coach Herb Haller ’85 said. “The new players contributed and made a nice impact, they really fit in well with the returning players from a chemistry standpoint. When you combine that with the returning group of players we had, the pieces really fell into place.”
Even though the Pioneers built a 6-0-1 record through the early part of the season, it wasn’t until they won at Berlin Hiland that the team really took off.
“With the way our schedule was set up, the games became progressively more difficult,” Haller said. “It was the Berlin Hiland game, traditionally a difficult place to play, where we found a way to win while short-handed, which forced some of our other players to step up.”
David Ma ’14 earned Most Valuable Player honors.
“For the coaching staff, many of his teammates and many opposing coaches throughout the area, the glue for our team was David,” Haller said. “Without David, we do no keep possession of the ball as much. We do not score nearly as many goals without David making sure we connected the dots with the ball from our backs to our forwards, or from one side of the field to the other.
“His technical ability, balance and visions is a pleasure to coach and more enjoyable to watch. What excites me even more is that I have the chance to coach David for two more years.”
Robb Croasdaile ’12 was named the team’s Most Improved Player.
“I knew when he arrived on the first day of preseason that Robb was determined to make an impact this year,” Haller said. “On the field, Robb began the season as an attacking player. Halfway through the season, we moved him to an outside back position and he played so well that we decided to leave him there the rest of the year.
“His speed, technique with the ball and ability to bring the forward out of the back provided our team with the ability to attack with more numbers and create more scoring opportunities.”
The J. Ashton Graham Spirit Award was presented to team captain Eric Brady ’12.
“For the last two years, whether you watched Eric at practice or in a game, he always played with the same intensity, which always brought the best out of himself and his teammates,” Haller said. “He was our captain, and though he was not a loud, vocal leader, Eric led his team by example. His work ethic was contagious and Ash would have loved to watch him on the soccer field.”
Connor “CJ” Polak ’13 earned the John Breuker Jr. Coaches Award.
“CJ arrived in August ready for a new challenge and quickly made his mark on the team, settling in as one of our two holding midfielders,” Haller said. “Even though he was playing in a new system, with new players and new coaches, he accepted his role within the team and gradually became a spark plug for us. He is a competitor who I would much rather have on my team than trying to coach against him.”
Several members of the team earned additional postseason honors.
Federico Silva ’13 was named first team All-Ohio after scoring 15 goals and adding eight assists.
In the Tri-County League, Silva was named co-Player of the Year, Ma and Ryan Hassell ’15 were first team selections, Scott Schultz ’13 and Polack were second team selections, Jack McCormick ’13 and Joe Blanda ’14 were honorable mention selections, and Haller was named Coach of the Year.
The Greater Akron Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association also named Ma and Silva to its first team in Division III; Hassell joined them as a second team selection.
“Fedi is a difference maker,” Haller said. “He is very good with the ball from a technical standpoint and he is someone who loves to play the game of soccer.
“Ryan scored 23 goals for us as a freshman. Once he started to understand the role we were asking him to play as a forward, we, as a team, finally started to raise our level of play.
“Any time you win an award, be it a coaching award or Fedi being named All-Ohio, those are individual awards but they are really team awards. I don’t get Coach of the Year unless we have 22 guys all believing in what we do.”
This year’s team was the personification of the style of soccer Haller wants to see from his squads.
“We are working to develop a style of play that is attractive to watch and fun to play,” he said. “When you have 11 players on the field who buy into it and understand their roles within the framework of the team, then you can have the kind of success we had this year.”
Head Coach: Herbert Haller Jr. '85
Captains: Eric V. Brady
MVP: David H. Ma
MIP: David Robb Croasdaile
J. Ashton Graham Spirit Award: Eric V. Brady
John Breuker, Jr. Coaches Award: Connor J. Polak