Ancell’s offensive output leads LaBrae

LEAVITTSBURG – Looking at the LaBrae boys soccer team’s statistics for this season, it’s easy to overlook Tristan Ancell.

The senior forward is second on the team in points recorded behind junior Mike Stassinis, but coach Rick Jones said he and other teams know the impact Ancell has for the Vikings.

Just in LaBrae’s 5-0 win over Bristol in a Division III sectional semifinal at LaBrae High School on Tuesday night, the senior contributed to four goals – scoring two and assisting on another two – to bring his goal total to nine and his assist total to 12 on the season.

“Tristan, unfortunately, has not gotten a lot of recognition that he’s due because everybody double teams him and they know how good he is,” Jones said. “So, he hasn’t had the season he’d like to, but he’s had a wonderful season. If you’ve seen him play, he’s deserved everything he’s got.”

With Ancell facing the brunt of opposing teams’ attention, Jones said he switched the formation and offensive philosophy in order to create more chances and take advantage of all the focus on Ancell.

The Vikings (9-4-3) have created most of their chances with the use of through balls, timing their runs and passes to put players in one-on-one situations with opposing goalkeepers. While LaBrae tends to drift offside on occasion, as it did seven times against Bristol (5-11), its rewards are high, as three of the Vikings’ goals on Tuesday came when through balls set up the forwards.

The two players who have experienced the most success of this system have been Stassinis, a junior, and Ancell.

They combined for the first two goals of the match in the third and 10th minutes, with Ancell putting Stassinis through on net and the junior putting two past Bristol goalkeeper Lucas Chapman. Ancell scored the third goal in the 20th minute when he received a Jarett Colins pass that allowed him to get behind the defense.

“I’ve played with him (Stassinis) since his freshman year,” Ancell said. “He’s got a pretty good idea of the game, and with my kind of idea of the game, we can play off each other. Through time, we’ve learned how he’s going to move and how I’m going to move, where he’s going to be and where I’m going to be and where to look.”

Jones said the partnership between the two players has grown over the year, and he said he’s seen how little both players care about individual success, as shown by the fact both have 12 assists so far this season. Also, Ancell’s goal total has dropped from a team-high 15 last season, while Stassinis has increased from eight to a team-high 15 this season.

“The good part of that is they’re unselfish,” Jones said. “They both realize that it doesn’t matter who scores – the ultimate goal is to just to score and be a team. We work hard on being 11 men out there, not one. Stats don’t matter. Goals don’t matter. At the end, it’s how we play as a team. Credit to them as being unselfish players.”

With his unselfish play, Ancell has helped lead the Vikings to their second tournament win since his freshman year. Last season, LaBrae won its first match against Liberty before losing to Cardinal Mooney in a Division II sectional final.

This year, the Vikings have advanced to the sectional final once again, this time in Division III against third-seeded Lordstown on Saturday. As much as Ancell said he wants to win and take the team the farthest it has gone in its history, he won’t be too upset about losing, either.

“LaBrae doesn’t have a history of going deep in playoffs besides basketball,” Ancell said. “I’m pretty excited for Lordstown. I hope we win. If we win, that would be awesome, but if we don’t, that’s all right, too, because I know we’re going to try our best and play hard.

“Everything comes to an end eventually, so that’s all right.”