Cumberland Times-News

Mike Mathews - Sports

December 16, 2007

Lais, Lopez players of year

Northern, Mountain Ridge seniors share top individual award

CUMBERLAND — No one scored more goals than Northern’s Elijah Lais.

Perhaps no one prevented more goals than Mountain Ridge’s Jared Lopez.

Both are seniors and three-year starters who led their teams to championship seasons. And both are the first players from their respective schools to be voted boys soccer Player of the Year, as together they share this year’s Edward C. “Ebbie” Finzel Award.

The players of the year and All-Area team were selected through a vote of area head coaches.

Elijah Lais

The numbers don’t lie. Elijah Lais was the area’s most prolific scorer, leading all players in goals scored, assists, points and scoring average.

The center of attention of opposing defenses after being offensive player of the year with 18 goals and 17 assists as a junior, Lais topped both marks this year with 23 goals and 18 assists. His 64 points in 17 games gave him an area’s best 3.76 scoring average, more than a point better than anyone else.

In his three-year career as a starter at midfield and striker, Lais totaled 43 goals and 38 assists.

“Elijah has great touch and plays the ball exceptionally well with both feet,’’ said Northern coach Lynn Lais. “He is an excellent one-touch passer, has a very accurate shot, serves the ball with great accuracy, and has an uncanny ability to distribute the ball. He also positions himself well off the ball.”

The ability to accurately pass and distribute the ball is easily evident by the 38 assists, with 35 coming the last two seasons. Lais is the only player with double-figure totals in goals and assists the last two seasons.

“Elijah’s assist numbers are indicative of his style of play. He is very much a team player,’’ his coach said. “Though he has the ability to create on his own, he looks to pass first and move to space rather than try to do it all.

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