WESTFIELD, NJ — He is aggressive on the field when needed and has stellar composure, his coach said.
Westfield High School varsity soccer center back Eric Ellner is this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week.
“He acts like our quarterback in our build up play,” said head coach Eric Shaw. “He can drive with the ball through the first line of pressure. He is our leader in the back, is aggressive when needed but most importantly he has great composure and reads the game really well. He is also very coachable.”
Ellner, a 17-year-old senior, has been playing soccer since the age of 3, but said he really came into the game during his second year at Westfield High School.
“My sophomore year in high school was when I blossomed into what I think of as a good soccer player, and I was able to play last year as center back. That continued into this season,” he said.
The center back’s primary role is to prevent the opposing team’s players for scoring. Ellner said that while he doesn’t have the physical build typical for the position, he makes up for it with his skill.
“It’s usually a big, stocky, tall kid hitting headers, but I’m kind of short,” he said. “I’m not the biggest of guys, and I use that to my advantage.”
Ellner said his technical skill combined with the help of fellow defenseman Eli Carayannopoulous’ physique makes for a good pairing.
“He’s the big guy and I’m the technical guy, and we compliment each other,” Ellner said of Carayannopoulous, who is also a senior.
Ellner is not just a success on the soccer field. He has repeatedly made the high school’s honor roll and also plays Ultimate Frisbee. Ellner said he is keeping his options open when it comes to picking a field of study for college.
With an overall record of 4-3-2, Ellner said, the team is looking to win a state championship following last year’s defeat in the finals against Elizabeth.
“Our biggest thing is we’re hungry to win states,” he said.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh