SARATOGA SPRINGS — After a remarkable season in which he helped the Blue Streaks reach the sectional title game, Saratoga Springs junior Ryan Farr has been named the Section 2 Class AA Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Farr had 20 goals and 11 assists in 16 games for the Blue Streaks, recording at least one point in every game. He helped lead the squad to a 15-1-1 overall record, including an unbeaten record in Suburban Council play and an appearance in the Class AA sectional championship, ending in a 4-3 overtime loss to Shaker. The junior was also named to the All-State First Team.
In addition to Farr’s awards, the Blue Streaks’ senior goaltender Ben Van Valkenburg was named Class AA Goaltender of the Year, while head coach Jeff Geller was named Class AA Co-Coach of the Year.
Geller said Farr “has dedicated himself year-round to being the best soccer player he can be.”
“This award is well-deserved,” said Geller. “Ryan was one of our team captains, and while he isn’t overly vocal on the field, he leads by example with his heart and determination on the field.”
Geller said that Farr offered great insight and feedback to the coaching staff, and that his work ethic motivated the rest of the team throughout the season.
“Ryan has an amazing touch and reads the game very well,” Geller said. “When the ball is played into his feet, he is able to make the right choice very quickly, whether it is to play the ball to a teammate in a more advantageous spot or to turn and take the player on himself. He has a nose for goal and finds the perfect spaces in the box to get a foot in and put it past the keeper.”
In the sectional championship against Shaker, Farr scored three goals and led Saratoga back from a 3-1 deficit to force overtime.
“After going down 3-1, it would have been easy for Ryan and the team to pack it in,” said Geller. “The team rallied hard and put dangerous balls into the box where Ryan was able to find the perfect spots and score yet again to keep us in the match.”
Geller said he told his team that Farr’s recognition would not have been possible without the strong play of the team as a whole.
“From the goalkeeper to the defense to the midfield, it was our team play as a whole that opened up and moved defenses allowing Ryan to work his magic,” Geller said. “Our motto from day one was, ‘Teamwork to make the dream work.’ In order to be successful, we were going to need players to play unselfishly and not get hung up on individual honors. I feel the team followed through on this motto admirably.”
And Farr wasn’t the only member of the Saratoga team to receive recognition from Section 2, with Van Valkenburg earning Class AA Goaltender of the Year honors. Geller said Van Valkenburg ran away with the starting job in net during the latter half of the season.
“(Ben is) vocal and aggressive in the box,” Geller said of Van Valkenburg. “He's also very good with his feet, which is important with a team like ours that likes to play back to the keeper often to keep possession. His passes out of the back often kickstarted our offense.”
The Blue Streaks’ success as a team led to Geller being named Section 2 Class AA Co-Coach of the Year alongside Shaker’s Dan Fountain, with Geller saying it is nice to receive recognition despite the team falling in the sectional title game.
“I would trade the individual honor for a sectional title in a heartbeat, but it's nice to be recognized for having a successful season,” said Geller. “Going undefeated in Suburban Council play doesn't happen very often, and I'm happy I was able to enjoy the ride along with assistant coach (Kasey) Lemos and the rest of the squad.”
Geller said that ultimately, this fall season was “a season (he) will never forget.”
“On the field, the team played some of the most beautiful soccer I've seen in over 20 years of coaching. Off the field, this team was a close-knit group of boys who were an absolute pleasure to work with,” Geller said. “I feel the team truly fought for one another each and every game. Having coached or known most of this squad since they were U8 and U10 players, it was truly bittersweet to see this season come to an end.”