Published on December 5th, 2021 | by Staples Soccer0
Soccer Banquet Returns In Style
The final event of the 2021 season — the 63rd annual Staples High School boys soccer banquet — was held tonight. As always, it was a cause for pride, reflection, memories, joy and love.
It was also a welcome return. Last year COVID forced the event outside, on a cold December night at the Sherwood Diner. It was varsity only; parents watched via livestream.
This year, nearly 200 players, parents, siblings and friends honored the varsity, reserve and freshman teams. The Norwalk Inn event included heartfelt speeches by coaches and athletes, and several awards.
Head coach Dan Woog noted the evening’s several themes. There was sadness that the varsity team was together for the last time; pride in on-field achievements, including playing with skill, poise, grace, toughness and creativity; satisfaction in setting lofty goals and reaching many of them, and eagerness in looking ahead to 2022.
Throughout the night, Woog cited the 2021 team’s commitment to honoring their legacy — and adding one more page to Staples soccer’s storied history.
The 2 Block “S” awards went to Jacob Greenberger and Tim Liakh.
In a vote by teammates, Greenberger was chosen as Most Valuable Player Award. Woog cited the goalkeeper for his role in the team’s 12 shutouts, and his steadiness under pressusre.
Liakh was named Most Improved Player Award. After being cut early in his Staples career, and playing with the reserves last fall, he emerged as an important midfield contributor this season. His consistently smart, solid play earned him a starting role by season’s end.
The Alumni Award — given for exemplifying “the values that have been the foundation of the Staples program since its inception” — went to seniors Bruno Guiduli, Jackson Hochhauser and Sam Vannart. In different ways, the trio fully understands the legacy that preceded them, and are excellent role models for all who follow. They “totally get” Staples soccer, Woog said, and alumni should be supremely proud of them.
The Jeff Lea Award — presented to adults for “long, enthusiastic and meritorious service to the Staples boys soccer program” — went to Robert Brickley. Though not a Staples soccer alum (his father, Neil Brickley, starred on the 1970 state champion team, and received the Jeff Lea Award in 2008), Robert has been extremely dedicated to the Wrecker program. The 2004 Connecticut High School Player of the Year at Wethersfield High, who then starred at the University of Connecticut, used his knowledge of the game — and great understanding of Staples’ players and history — as the voice of this year’s livestream. Robert’s insightful comments, entertaining delivery and objectivity drew praise from viewers and listeners.
The evening included strong speeches by coaches, plus captains Bruno Guiduli, Jackson Hochhauser and Murilo Moreno. All highlighted not just wins and losses, but the unbreakable bonds and important lessons each season has taught.
A superb slide show, created by Sandro Moreno — along with Sam Willis’ highlight video — were other evening highlights.
A non-varsity award was presented by freshman coach Elisee Joseph. Alex Kuster received the Stephen Martin Award. It goes to a freshman player who epitomize Steve’s “special spirit, by combining the desire to excel with the willingness to work and the eagerness to share.”
Great thanks to organizers Mary Foster, Lorraine Watkins, Joanna Douglas, Lauren Syah, and all others who helped!