High School Sports

All-Area boys’ soccer: Bottini spurred Clover forward from his defensive position

Clover’s Bailey Bottini was able to influence games on both ends from his right fullback position.
Clover’s Bailey Bottini was able to influence games on both ends from his right fullback position. Photo by Boston Henderson

Clover boys’ soccer had its best season in several years, winning the Region 3-4A title and spending much of the season in the state’s top-10 polls.

Senior right back Bailey Bottini was a huge reason for the team’s success. Sure, he fulfilled his defensive duties adeptly, helping his team to 12 shutouts. But Bottini was an offensive force as well, humming down the wing or cutting inside to foster scoring chances for himself or his teammates. Bottini made 4A All-State and is The Herald’s 2015 player of the year.

His coach, Graham Stafford, did a fine job fashioning the Blue Eagles into one of the stingiest teams in the state. Clover’s season may have ended in disappointing fashion in the second round of the state playoffs, but it didn’t change the fact that the Englishman Stafford has his program back on the statewide radar. Stafford is The Herald’s All-Area boys’ soccer coach of the year.

The Herald’s All-Area boys’ soccer awards, in full:

All-Area boys’ soccer

Player of the year: Bailey Bottini, Clover

Coach of the year: Graham Stafford, Clover

First team

Robert Schreiner, Clover: All-Region 3-4A keeper helped Clover keep 12 shutouts this season. Schreiner is signed with Francis Marion and was a real weapon thumping the ball up the field with his strong leg.

Fernando Alpizar-Ramos, Clover: Senior midfielder was named Region 3-4A co-player of the year with teammate Bailey Bottini. Alpizar-Ramos assisted nine goals and scored 10, including several free kicks.

Bailey Bottini, Clover: Senior fullback made 4A All-State and was co-Region 3-4A player of the year. Bottini scored four goals but set up 10 more with his marauding runs from the back line. Bottini will play college soccer at Lander.

Adam Watkins, Clover: Ball-playing centerback was a calm presence for the Blue Eagles’ defense, the backbone of the team’s success this season.

Caleb Moore, Northwestern: Appalachian State signee made All-Region 3-4A for the Trojans, where he was a staple in midfield.

Kevin Garces, Nation Ford: Exciting speedster scored six goals and assisted nine while making All-Region 3-4A for the Falcons.

Peyton Marion, South Pointe: Senior was named Region 3-3A player of the year after scoring 10 goals and assisting four more from center midfield.

Garrett Gerdes, Indian Land: Junior midfielder ran the Indian Land midfield, earning 2A All-State and Region 4-2A player of the year honors. Gerdes scored 14 goals and assisted 11.

Jordan Szustwal, Indian Land: Senior forward was a North-South All-Star after scoring 17 goals and assisting five more.

Matthew Medlock, Indian Land: Junior defender scored two goals and assisted five as part of a strong back line at Indian Land.

Shea Rodgers, Indian Land: Senior fullback made 2A All-State and was a constant threat on free kicks and set pieces for the Warriors.

Second team

Steven Alvarez, Clover; Keegan Downie, Fort Mill; Bailey Woolley, Northwestern; Mason Mullis, Indian Land; Justin Penn, Indian Land; Tyler Jarrett, Nation Ford; Caleb Bruckner, Nation Ford; Hudson Gray, Rock Hill; Luke Higginbotham, Rock Hill; Gaib Schoenfuss, South Pointe; Buddy Anderson, York.

Honorable mention

Carlos Gomez and Gavin McCraw, Fort Mill; Nick Tourville, Nation Ford; Erwin Salazar, Northwestern; Zhenya Deller, Rock Hill; Will Brandon, Ben Vastag and Ely Younce, South Pointe; Benji Amezcua and Todd Weatherington, York.