BELLEVILLE — Ryan Green was called upon like never before to step up this season for the Belleville Henderson boys soccer team.
Green, a senior forward, didn’t disappoint as he emerged as one of the top players in the region and helped lead the Panthers to even further success on the pitch.
Green, a forward, has been selected as the Times All-North Most Valuable Player in boys soccer from the Frontier League.
After Belleville Henderson lost its top scorer from the previous season to graduation, head coach Shawn Maloney asked Green to embrace the role of an offensive leader.
“What made Ryan a special player this year is we had a position open up that the team needed, as a finisher,” Maloney said. “And Ryan stepped in and had so much success, it was like we never missed a beat.”
Simply put, the Panthers needed a finisher on offense, and Green took on the challenge.
Green responded by scoring 25 goals and assisting on nine others to generate 60, finishing as the Frontier League’s leading scorer in both goals and points this year.
“I knew I had to fill Brady (Maloney’s) shoes, because he’s a good player,” Green said. “And I had been playing with him ever since I was young, because he lives right across the road from me.”
“He worked hard in the offseason and also did some of his own personal training,” Shawn Maloney said. “And with my son having graduated after he was our top scorer last year, Ryan stepped right in and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
He also helped lead Belleville Henderson to back-to-back Frontier League “D” Division titles in both the regular season and in the playoffs.
“It was a good season and we played very hard the whole season,” Green said. “We had a lot of opportunities and we conquered them pretty well.”
Green also is the first athlete from Belleville Henderson to garner All-North MVP honors in soccer.
“I had tears in my eyes when I told Ryan about this,” Shawn Maloney said. “It’s special and Ryan’s a special kid.”
Sparked by Green, the Panthers went a perfect 14-0 in the regular season to claim the division’s regular-season crown outright, after sharing the title last year with rival Lyme, and finished 17-0-1 overall.
“We played as a team the whole year and that’s what got us through the most, because we always picked each other up when we got down and we just found a way to win,” Green said.
“No pressure, we just put the pressure aside, calm down and play as a team,” Green said.
Belleville Henderson beat Lyme twice in the regular season, including a 6-3 comeback victory Oct. 1 to secure the title, as Green scored four goals in the game.
In the division championship game, the Panthers once again trailed the Indians at halftime, this time by one goal, but rallied to prevail, 2-1, to claim their second consecutive title.
“It was amazing winning it back-to-back, it felt good to win two years in a row,” Green said. “It was hard, though, to beat Lyme a third time because they’re obviously a talented team. So it took everything we had to play our game and get a win.”
The two teams squared off for a fourth time this season, this time in a Section 3 Class D quarterfinal in Belleville, but this time the two teams finished tied through regulation and overtime, with Lyme advancing on penalty kicks.
“We lost the game that counted the most, though, which hurt us,” Green said.
Green scored nine goals and assisted on two others in his junior season, before breaking through offensively this year.
“My junior season, we had a good season, obviously,” Green said. “After we won the Frontier League, we made it to the semifinals in sectionals, which is something special.”
One of six seniors on the squad, including forward Brandon Bast and defenders Garrett Gehrke and Logan Simpson, Green hopes this year’s team success will help inspire the program to even greater heights in the future.
“For sure, we’ve been playing soccer for as long as I can remember for us seniors,” said Green, a member of the National Honor Society who hopes to attend SUNY Brockport to play soccer. “And we’ve worked all the way up through, and we always hoped when we were younger that we could win championships, and it felt just so amazing to do it when we got here.”
Maloney believes this group of seniors will leave a legacy at the school, as did those seniors on the team a year ago.
“I think these seniors and this team this year inspired the community and the younger players that Belleville Henderson can have success in boys soccer,” Maloney said. “And Ryan was a big part of that.”
“The kids I have around me are very good, I’ve been playing with them since I was young, too,” Green added. “They know what you’re going to do, you know what they can do. My teammates were amazing this year.”