By Ryan Kaczmarski
For the third time in school history, the North Olmsted High School boys varsity soccer team has been given the Team Academic All-American Award by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
The award is given to nominated teams which boast a composite team GPA of at least 3.25, on a 4.0 scale.
The program also boasts its ninth-consecutive Academic All-Ohio recognition, for the 2013 season.
“Every year we have at least two guys – and as many as six – who are also named Academic All-Americans as individuals,” North Olmsted boys varsity head coach Chris Marsh said. “It’s always been a competitive team, academically, and I feel strongly that it is a reason we have been pretty successful on the field.
“One of the things that we really encourage is that the guys are good students of the game, and as a coach, it makes (the job) that much easier when you lay down a game plan, the guys can immediately mentally connect the dots.”
North Olmsted won the state title in 1999, and followed that with its first Academic All-American nod in 2000. The program earned its second Academic All-American award in 2010.
“We won the state championship when most of those boys were juniors, and went on to lose in the state title game the next year, but got the Academic All-American nod,” Marsh said.
There will be 14 players from the 2013 roster coming back to play for the Eagles this fall.
“We had a really tough test (in the 2013 season), because we graduated 14 kids from the previous year,” Marsh said. “We had never graduated that many kids in one year, so going into last season, we thought that it could have potentially been a year in which we would lose in double-digits, and go through some growing pains. But we didn’t. Part of the reason we finished up with a winning record, and were able to beat or tie five of the teams in the top 10 in the area, was because of how smart the guys were.
“The thing that is going to be interesting for the eight guys that we are losing to graduation, is that they are all key pieces of the team,” Marsh explained. “It’s pretty hard to replace an Austin Medley, who was a two-time All-Southwestern Conference player and defensive stalwart. He basically, was the guy who held the team together.
“Also leaving, there’s Stefan Spanu, who created all the things for us up front on offense.”
Marsh does feel that next season’s squad has the potential to be more successful on the field than this year’s team.
“We are returning a stronger nucleus of players than what we had going into this season, and our guys love the game – and pretty much play all year round,” he concluded. “The learning curve will be much faster for them, because they play as much as they do.”