Springdale’s Billy Lawrence wins Valley News Dispatch boys soccer player of year honors

Saturday, November 25, 2023 | 5:01 PM

Player of the year

Billy Lawrence

Springdale, Sr., Forward

Billy Lawrence was used to being man-marked by opponents as Springdale’s striker, but this year, he received even more attention.

Lawrence saw junk defenses and, at times was harassed by opponents hoping to distract him and get him off kilter.

“It’s less about physical strength and more about mental strength,” Lawrence said “You have to learn to stay in the game and not get pulled away from it. If you look weak, the rest of the team is going to look weak, and that’s a bad look as a team leader and captain. You just have to stay headstrong.”

Lawrence was headstrong indeed.

He scored 21 goals, was named the WPIAL Class A Player of the Year and was an all-state selection.

Lawrence was one of the top goal scorers in the A-K Valley, and for his efforts on the field, he is the 2023 Valley News Dispatch Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

Plum’s Tristan Ralph also was considered for player of the year honors.

Lawrence was on the scoresheet in pretty much every game, starting with a pair of goals in the season opener against rival Riverview.

He went on to record a hat trick against St. Joseph and poured in six goals in a nonsection win over Greensburg Salem.

Those were good moments, but for Lawrence, the best times he had this season weren’t in matches.

“Just enjoying my last few practices was probably the most fun I’ve had throughout the year,” Lawrence said. “Those last precious moments with all my buddies.”

Lawrence had the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Burrell in a crucial early-season section matchup. That win helped the Dynamos earn a share of the Section 3-A title with the Bucs.

“At the beginning of the year, it was a little rough with the loss of our seniors from last year, but once we got a game or two in, the chemistry built and it turned out to be a pretty decent season,” Lawrence said.

The Dynamos matched up with Carlynton in the first round of the playoffs for a second consecutive season and got another win.

Lawrence was at the center of the 3-1 victory, scoring two goals and recording an assist. He had a hat trick in last year’s 5-1 win over the Cougars.

Springdale lost 5-0 to Seton LaSalle in the quarterfinals, but that didn’t diminish another good season.

“It was really nice making the playoffs all four years and as a program. We’ve made it 10 years in a row,” Lawrence said. “A decade straight making the playoffs is pretty sweet.”

Lawrence plans to continue his soccer career in college but is still deciding on where he will go.

He will spend the winter playing on the Dynamos boys basketball team.

First team

Garrett Chandler

Jr., D, Plum

Chandler received all-WPIAL honors and was a leader of a Mustangs defense that produced 11 shutouts. He also scored four goals.

Luke Guerrini

Sr., D, Burrell

Guerrini was the leader of Burrell’s backline, which produced seven shutouts. He was named to the all-WPIAL Class A and all-section teams.

Jayson Ireland

Sr., F, Burrell

Ireland led the Bucs with 21 goals, including five during the run to the state quarterfinals. He earned all-WPIAL Class A and all-section honors.

Joey Kushon

Sr., D, Deer Lakes

One of the few upperclassmen on the Lancers roster, Kushon led a defense that helped produce nine shutouts. He was all-WPIAL and all-Section 2-2A.

Peyton Kushon

So., F, Deer Lakes

Kushon formed a dynamic duo up top with Collin Rodgers. An all-WPIAL selection, Kushon had several multi-goal games, including a hat trick against Freeport in the Section 2-2A finale, which helped secure a section title.

Pablo Linzoain

Jr., MF, Fox Chapel

Linzoain earned all-state, all-WPIAL and all-section honors. He helped the Foxes reach the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals.

Chris O’Toole

Jr., F, Riverview

O’Toole led the Raiders with 19 goals. He was named to the Class A all-WPIAL team and to the all-Section 3-A team.

Tristan Ralph

Sr., MF, Plum

Ralph was named the WPIAL Class 3A Player of the Year and received all-state recognition. He scored a dozen goals and notched 13 assists to lead the Mustangs to a Section 4-3A title.

Collin Rodgers

So., F, Deer Lakes

Rodgers was a top scorer for the Lancers and earned all-WPIAL and all-section honors. He had a four-goal game in a win over Jeannette and matched Kushon with a hat trick in the Section 2-2A finale against Freeport.

Tyler Yurisinec

Sr., D, Plum

Yurisinec was a key member of Plum’s stout defense and received all-WPIAL Class 3A honors. He added two goals to go along with his backline duties that helped the Mustangs win 18 consecutive games in the regular season.

Cam Wagner

Sr., MF, Burrell

Wagner commanded the midfield for the Bucs and was on the all-WPIAL Class A and all-section teams. He scored 10 goals, including one in Burrell’s 9-0 win over Redbank Valley in the PIAA first round, the first state playoff win in program history.

Second team

Wes Boyle, So., GK, Deer Lakes

Sam Caldwell, Sr., F, Knoch

Milo Chu, Jr., MF, Fox Chapel

Quin Fischer, Jr., GK, Riverview

Billy Kowalkowski, Jr., D, Burrell

Colin Lazzara, Sr., MF, Fox Chapel

Mason Nebel, F, Knoch

Sam Norris, Sr., F, Highlands

Angelo Porco, Jr., MF, Freeport

Zane Spence, So., MF, Deer Lakes

Nate Witt, Sr., F, Kiski Area

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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