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The Lancaster High School varsity soccer program is making its marks on and off the field.
The Lancaster High School girls team, for the fourth consecutive year, has been honored by the National High School Soccer Association of America with the National Team Academic Award.
The Lady Bruins of coach Bo Sylvia posted a 4.3 team GPA (grade point average) to reap the honor for the fourth straight year.
The LHS girls, who went 13-8 last spring, earned a Class AAAA Upper State playoff bid.
The 12-9 Bruins, also guided by Sylvia, registered a 3.4 GPA to earn the honor for the second straight year.
“This is a huge honor for our soccer program,” said Sylvia. “To me, this academic award is the highest compliment to our soccer program. This is what being here is all about.
“We stress academics above all else,” Sylvia said. “This is something which has always been part of the soccer program throughout my career. I’m real proud of this tradition.”
LHS principal Dr. Joe Keenan saluted Sylvia, the Bruins’ staff and coaches.
“We’re certainly proud of the boys and girls soccer programs and the wonderful job they do,” Keenan said. “Athletics is important and gets a lot of attention, but academics is what school is all about and these students are displaying it in the truest fashion.
“Coach Sylvia is the example of a true teacher and coach,” Keenan said. “I thankful coach Sylvia got us enrolled in this program and I’m glad our students have the opportunity to be around him.”
Lancaster High is one of five schools in the state to have both soccer teams honored for academic excellence.
“Our soccer program has made steady strides under coach Sylvia,” Bruins’ athletic director Mark Strickland. “To have success on the field is a plus, but to excel in class and earn this type recognition is truly outstanding.”
Sylvia said the program is blessed to have coaches who support academic success.
“We can’t do it without our assistant coaches in Ed Humphrey (girls) and Robert Fields (boys) and Alex Tarque,” Sylvia said. “We’ve created an environment of academic excellence among our athletes who want to continue this tradition of excellence each year. It started with our first seniors and it has continued. The majority of our parents have also bought in.
“Our faculty and staff also provide a great deal of support for academics,” Sylvia said. “We couldn’t do it without our faculty and staff.”
The 2010 LHS girls soccer captain included top graduate Sarah DeVenny along with Morgan Gardner and Sedona Smith. The LHS 2011 captains are Smith, Ashley Cauthen and Frances Whitesides.
DeVenny along with 2011 graduates Lena Pringle and Rebecca Sizemore earned academic scholarships to college.
In addition to the Lady Bruins’ playoff bid, the LHS girls won the Cyclone Cup tournament championship for the third straight season.
The 2010 LHS boys captains were Kola George and Matthew Johnston. The LHS boys captains for 2011 are Arnold Roman, George and Johnston.
“To my knowledge there were only five high schools in the state that made dual honors last year and to do it again speaks volumes about the commitment our soccer players have for not only athletic excellence, but academic.
“Our No. 1 mission is academics,” Sylvia said. “The students want you to push them. One feeds the other.
“It’s the achievement of wanting these young people qualify for scholarships.”