Ever since Hart boys soccer senior forward Nicholas Woll can remember, he’s been kicking something around.
“Rocks, sticks, balls and I ended up playing soccer,” he said. “It’s always been a passion of mine and it’s something I love to do.”
His passion and dedication flourished into something special throughout his soccer career with the Indians and with his play during the 2019-20 season it’s no surprise that Woll was named the All-Foothill League Player of the Year.
True to his character, Woll deflected the praise and honored his teammates for helping him achieve such an award.
“After all these years of working so hard, it’s just great to have a team to be able to do it with,” Woll said. “Without having such a fantastic team to play with, I don’t think I could have done it.”
After overcoming a nagging knee injury at the beginning of the season, Woll got going and finished CIF-Southern Section regular-season and postseason play with 19 total goals and upwards of six or seven assists on the year. But those figures might grow as the team reached the CIF-SS semifinals and automatically qualified for the CIF state tournament.
“He started a little slow, but with time, not only because he is a good player, but there’s also good players around him, he started to develop more and more,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel.
“As the season has progressed he’s picked it up and has gotten better. I think in between him and Lawrence (Luna), they had the challenge of who could score the most goals. He’s made a big improvement and he’s a good kid. I think this year has been his best year because he’s been open to learning and taking instruction.”
Woll began the season on fire, scoring both of Hart’s goals in a 2-0 shutout of El Camino Real and attributed this year’s number of goals to his sibling rivalry. He has a sister, Stephanie, who plays on Hart’s girls team.
“I guess, this season it ended up being me a little more than her, but it’s great having someone compete like that,” Woll said.
As the season went on, Woll let his play speak for itself and people started to recognize him for his leaping abilities as he was the key target for most of his teammates once he got inside the opposing team’s penalty box.
As was evident throughout the season, but none more important than when Woll headed in Hart’s first goal in the 2-1 win against Saugus to clinch the Foothill League outright.
“For a forward with his height, he’s very athletic,” Jovel said. “He does a very good job. Anytime the ball gets in the box and is in the air, he’s a danger, so they better be careful with him.”
“I could not tell you where it comes from,” Woll said. “My dad has a little bit, but… it’s just a little bit at the gym, I guess. Leg day.”
After the Indians first and only defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss to Canyon, Woll and the Indians looked inline to drop their second game-in-a-row, but in typical Hart fashion came back to win it 3-2.
Down on three separate occasions, the Indians fought their way back and with just under 20 minutes remaining, Woll scored the game-winner to escape with a win.
“The Canyon loss was tough, but we came back against West Ranch, bonded a little bit, built the team chemistry and pulled out a win,” Woll said.
The Indians finished in first place atop the Foothill League and Woll scored or assisted on a goal in each of the final three regular-season games.
Continuing his scoring streak, in the postseason against Royal, Woll scored a pair of goals in Hart’s 7-2 win and was the only Indians player to score a goal in all four of the CIF-SS playoff matches. Once again, he attributed the goals to his teammates.
“It was definitely my team, they helped me out a bunch,’’ Woll said. “Lawrence made beautiful runs down the line and sent perfect balls and I think I got two of the goals from him. But everyone else, Jesus (Alfonzo), Joe (Ochoa) the whole team, even Cameron at right-back was sending beautiful balls in. It’s work from everyone.”
Woll and the Indians turn their attention to the CIF state tournament, which begins on Tuesday, and will find out who they play on Sunday when the draws are revealed.
“We are going to give it our all,” Woll said. “Three games are all we have to prove ourselves after the tough loss in the semis, but I think, with the work that we are putting in right now we have a good shot.
Ivan Ledesma, senior, Canyon
Ronny Morales, senior, Golden Valley
Brian Romo, senior, Golden Valley
Lawrence Luna, senior, Hart
Nathaniel Bello, senior, Hart
Connor Claborn, sophomore, Saugus
Alec Fryer, sophomore, Saugus
Alexei De Vita, senior, Valencia
Ty Morrison, junior, Valencia
JP Zuluaga, junior, Valencia
Ryan Verbeck, senior, West Ranch
Samuel Roque, senior, Canyon
Jarrett Reeser, junior, Canyon
Julian Villafan, senior, Golden Valley
Cesar Perez, junior, Golden Valley
Lucas Enriquez, senior, Hart
Cameron Castañeda, senior, Hart
Mark Beale, junior, Saugus
John Kleinfeld, senior, Saugus
Aaron Cardenas, sophomore, Valencia
Noah Yohannes, senior, Valencia
Niko Marquez, senior, West Ranch
Jacob Gendein, senior, West Ranch
Edward Quijano, senior, Canyon
Jesse Valerio, senior, Golden Valley
Jesus Alfonzo, senior, Hart
John Garcia DeLaRosa, senior, Saugus
Maxon La Vallee, sophomore, Valencia
Ethan Bolita, junior, West Ranch