When the boys soccer season started in late August, AJ Nardone was primed and ready to defend his Wyoming Valley Conference Division I scoring title.
But an injury to begin the season hampered those plans, as he missed five of Dallas’ first seven games and only had one point (an assist) in that time.
While he was sidelined, the team went 5-1-1 and averaged just over two goals per game in that span. When he returned, he not only went on an incredible run to claim the scoring title once again, but the Mountaineers’ scoring average skyrocketed to more than five goals per game in the final 11 games of the season to get to the District 2 Class 2A title match.
His superb effort in leading Dallas on its run helped Nardone in being selected as The Times Leader Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
“At the beginning of the year, my personal goal was to get another scoring title and to win districts. So I knew I was going to have a lot of catching up to do and my teammates were very supportive to help me reach that goal,” Nardone said. “We were plagued by injuries at the beginning of the season. But they stepped up and put us in position to win the division once again.”
It wasn’t just the 2013 season in which the Mountaineers or Nardone excelled. Dallas went on a tremendous run of four straight Wyoming Valley Conference Division I championships, two appearances in the District 2 Class 2A championship game and an incredible streak in which the team won 57 of 60 WVC matches. But one thing that was missing was the coveted district gold.
“It’s been a really great experience. Not having to deal with defeat has been a lot of fun,” Nardone said. “But it also puts pressure on you and could lead to our demise in the postseason having to win. But overall, it’s been really enjoyable.”
Nardone, who piled up 49 goals and 38 assists for 136 points in his regular-season career with Dallas, wasn’t the only senior standout on the team. Even in junior high, the class that will graduate in 2014 had success, winning consecutive district titles and not having a loss in two seasons.
“It’s been a great run. I was blessed to be in such a great class of soccer players,” Nardone added. “We always had the right players that we knew if we went out there we always had a chance of winning.”
Winning is exactly what they did. And it’s what Nardone and this senior class from Dallas will be remembered for in the school and their futures.