Vilotti named top boys' soccer player
He scored goals as picturesque and technically difficult as you will see at any level. His assists could have been accompanied by smoke and mirrors.
He scored goals as picturesque and technically difficult as you will see at any level.
His assists could have been accompanied by smoke and mirrors.
But as eye-popping as those skills are, they're not what Washington Township coach Shane Snyder thinks of first when he thinks of Lou Vilotti.
"The way he sees the game is off the charts," Snyder said of Vilotti, this year's Inquirer player of the year in South Jersey boys' soccer.
"He's the kind of kid who, when you go into halftime, you go to him and ask him what he sees: Where are we finding space? Do we need to change anything tactically? As coaches, we're not on the field to see what he sees, and he just thinks the game so well."
Coaches generally laud their top players for contributing in a number of different ways, in ways the average player simply can't.
Never was that more obvious than with Vilotti this season.
The junior midfielder finished with 14 goals and 21 assists for the Minutemen, spearheading a unit widely believed to be one of the best all-around offenses in recent memory in the area.
He was a part of a fair share of flashy plays, but his biggest contributions likely came without the ball at his feet.
"It was a pleasure watching him. He played the game the right way," Snyder said. "He works to get the ball. When he doesn't have the ball, he goes to tackle. It's rare to see a kid with that much skill who doesn't mind doing the dirty work also."
Washington Township had the type of firepower that can divide some teams, with each top player fighting for his share of glory.
Credit Vilotti and the rest of the Minutemen - many of whom have played soccer together most of their lives - for avoiding those pitfalls, for embracing and capitalizing on the team's obvious chemistry.
"All of us are best friends off the field, and that just translates into how we read each other and how we communicate on the field," Vilotti said. "We want to win for each other.
"And that's how I viewed myself this season. I don't view myself as playing any special role - just another player who's going to work as hard as he can to help his team win."
Through its first 25 games, Washington Township was undefeated, outscoring opponents by 84-8. In that span, it also won the school's first boys' soccer Coaches Tournament with a 3-1 victory over Timber Creek.
The season ended with a stunning 1-0 loss to Clearview in the Group 4 sectional final.
It was a painful loss. But this season taught Vilotti what it takes to be successful. And his team's road to redemption already has started.
"We obviously have some unfinished business and I can't wait to get started next year," said Vilotti, who is hoping to play Division I soccer after high school.
"But right now, I'm just focused on playing club and improving myself and getting the best out of myself. Hopefully, that translates into success for us next year."