ABy Oscar Matos ’18 and Colin Capece ’18
After being named All-American, NSCHSAA Most Valuable Player, and State Champion, Matt Vowinkel ’17 added one more accolade to the list on Thursday, February 11 by earning the distinction of Gatorade New York State Soccer Player of the Year.
Considering Vowinkel’s eye-popping stats (he led the team with 19 regular-season goals) and the strong leadership that resulted in him being named a junior captain, it should be no surprise that members of the Chaminade community rave about the junior striker; however, it takes a truly great player to receive that same praise from a rival coach as well. Don Corrao, an assistant coach from St. Anthony’s, noted, “[Vowinkel]’s got good size, good pace, a nose for the goal, and he can crush the ball.”
While his masterful regular season was one of the finest in school history, his level of play did not taper off as the season progressed. Vowinkel saved some of his finest performances for when it mattered most: the playoffs. His postseason highlights include a breathtaking goal against St. Anthony’s that gave Chaminade their first NSCHSAA championship in five years and two goals in the state final against Canisius, among many others.
While a tremendous factor, Matt’s dominance on the field was not the only reason he earned the State Player of the Year award. Academic performance and overall character are taken into account when deciding the recipient of the award. Vowinkel’s play on the field, coupled with his excellence in the classroom and willingness to give back to his community through various service projects, pushed him above and beyond the field of nominees.
When asked about this accomplishment, Vowinkel noted, “For me to be named the Gatorade State Player of the Year is the greatest thing that has happened to me this year. It’s such an honor to represent Chaminade in receiving this award.”
While being named State Player of the Year is a huge accomplishment, Vowinkel may very well have a few more awards in store. Now that each state (as well as the District of Columbia) has selected its Player of the Year, awarded players will be further evaluated by a larger committee of experts to determine the Boys Soccer National Player of the Year. Following the announcement of the award on May 9th, the winner will not only receive a trophy and banner, but will also earn an all-expense-paid trip to Los Angeles. Once there, he will be honored at the Gatorade Athlete of the Year awards dinner and be given tickets to the ESPY’s, ESPN’s annual sports-awards show.
Vowinkel’s status as the New York Player of the Year puts him in the running for this monumental achievement. If he were to receive the Boys Soccer National Player of the Year award, he would then be considered for the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Award. This award is only given to two athletes in the nation, one male and one female, and is considered one of the highest honors a high-school athlete can garner.
Despite all of the excitement that these recent off-field developments have incited, Matt knows that his and the rest of the soccer team’s focus has to remain on the upcoming season. Coming off a state title, they will have an enormous target on their backs, but the team is not shying away from the challenge of repeating as champions. “Winning the championship last year put a big target on our backs for this season,” noted Matt. “I think winning it again will be a good challenge next season.”
Congratulations to Matt for his monumental athletic achievement!