Photo: Westbrook Christian’s Nathan Starzl (center) draws the attention of a pair of Boaz defenders during the first round of the Class 4A/5A state soccer playoffs last April. (Courtesy of Jeff Atkins Photography)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
His team-high 25 goals and 19 assists aside, Nathan Starzl’s contribution to the 2021 Westbrook Christian boys soccer team went far beyond the stat sheet.
“Nathan didn’t just make himself better; he made everyone around him better,” said Westbrook boys soccer coach Spencer Barnard. “Other teams knew he was a great player, so they paid more attention to him, which allowed some of the other players on our team to shine. When we needed Nathan to step up, he stepped up big. I think some people are players and some people are ballers, and Nathan definitely is a baller.”
For his standout play on the pitch this past season, Starzl was named Player of the Year for the 2021 Greater Gadsden Area boys high school soccer team.
In Westbrook’s first full season as a program (the team played only four games in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season), Starzl spearheaded the Warriors to an 11-4 record and a berth in the Class 2A state playoffs, where Westbrook dropped a close 2-1 decision to Boaz in the first round.
Starzl received a presti-gious postseason honor when he was selected to par-ticipate in the Alabama High School Athletic Association North/South all-star soccer game this summer in Mont-gomery.
Joining Starzl on the Greater Gadsden Area first team was midfielder Jesse Kantzler from Westbrook; forward John Doster, goal-keeper Jake Bell, forward Said Toumiba and Brandon Ayala from Southside; defender Will Perkins and midfielder Robbie Bowley from Gadsden City; midfielder Noah Monday, goalkeeper Nicky Jen-kins and forward Trent Dooley from Hokes Bluff; forward Aiden Cornutt and goalkeeper/midfielder Gavin Gray from Glencoe; and defender Greyson Simpson and goalkeeper Walker Griffith from Ashville.
Doster led the Panthers with 22 goals and 11 assists. Ayala finished with eight goals and 10 assists. Bowley led the Titans in assists. Cornutt was the Yellow Jackets’ leading scorer with 21 goals, while Gray had 53 saves. Jenkins led the Eagles with 20 goals along with four assists, while Dooley contributed10 goals and 10 assists.
Coach of the Year honors went to John Gibbs, who directed Hokes Bluff in the program’s inaugural season.
Making the second team were defender Bo Parker, defender Ariq Chandra, Micah Sitz and Caleb Ogle from Southside; center-midfielder Zyler Higgins, defender John Gilchrist and goalkeeper Evan Sizemore from Westbrook; defenders Joe Gardner, Sheldon Bush and John Hiller Roberts from Gadsden City; center-midfielder Vraj Patel and forward Jackson Williams from Glencoe; midfielder Daylon Day from Hokes Bluff; midfielder Dimitri Guerror from Etowah; and defender Joe Stephens and Clayton Knight from Ash-ville.