Mountainside's Sawan wins Gatorade Player of the Year
Ask Nedya Sawan and the Mountainside girls soccer goal-scoring savant forward would gladly flip her treasure trove of individual accolades for a state championship.
Truth serum wouldn't be required for that answer. Sawan is hard-wired for team success and bashful when it comes to standing in the spotlight alone. Helping the Mavericks scale the Class 6A level and hoist a blue trophy is her ultimate goal. She loves her teammates, a second sort of family in her eyes, and seeing them all succeed collectively.
But there's no denying Sawan's individual star power. Sawan won Class 6A Player of the Year and Metro League Player of the Year, finishing the year with seven multi-goal games, including three hat tricks.
And that's not even the biggest boon of all. In its 34th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company announced Sawan as its 2018-19 Gatorade Oregon Girls Soccer Player of the Year, the crowning achievement for the standout forward who was picked amongst a crowded field of talented peers.
"She's one of those players that can take a game over," Mountainside head coach Travis Schoonover said. "She dominates at the club level as well and then you throw her in the high school environment and she completely controls the game. She's a very skilled kid, a very humble person overall and we're very fortunate to have her in our group. She leads by example and her hard work. For as talented as she is and as well as she does in school and soccer, she's super humble."
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Sawan as Oregon's best high school girls soccer player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year award to be announced in June, Sawan joins an elite alumni association of past state soccer award-winners, including Alexi Lalas (1987-88, Cranbrook High School, Mich.), Steve Cherundolo (1996-97, Mt. Carmel High School, Calif.), Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women, N.Y.), Heather O'Reilly (2001-02, 2002-03, East Brunswick High School, N.J.), Matt Besler (2004-05, Blue Valley West High.
In Mountainside's inaugural season at the varsity level, the junior scored 24 goals and dished out seven assists, guiding the senior-less Mavericks to the 6A semis where they were ousted by Jesuit, arguably the best team in state history. In the 6A quarterfinals against Sunset, Sawan put home a late second-half penalty kick that ended up being the difference maker in a 1-0 instant classic win over the Apollos. Sawan put up those eye-popping despite getting double and even triple team on seemingly every touch on the field.
"She's one of the most competitive kids I've ever coached," Schoonover said. "She has that determination to get the job done. With her ability to dribble and hold onto the ball and that competitive drive, she's able to take on those extra defenders puts her a step above most players."
"Nedya is a threat around the goal at any time of the game," Sunset High School head coach Ben Durano, said. "Given her size, strength and speed, she is a handful to deal with. She can go right or left and oftentimes required double-teaming."
Sawan migrated to Mountainside before her sophomore year after playing her freshman season at Southridge. The Mavericks played a junior varsity-only schedule in the fall of 2017 before moving up to the varsity level. Sawan plays club soccer for FC Portland, an elite traveling team that exposes its players to Division One coaches and scouts and was ready to dominate from the opening kick of Mountainside's season.
Sawan and each of last year's squad (including five underclassmen who received all-Metro recognition) will be back together on the pitch this fall with the hope of capturing a state crown.
Sawan has volunteered locally on behalf of Project Lemonade, which provides supplies to foster children. She has also donated her time as a special education teaching assistant and youth soccer referee. Sawan has maintained a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. She has made a verbal commitment to play soccer on scholarship at the University of Portland beginning in the fall of 2020. Sawan joins recent Gatorade Oregon Girls Soccer Players of the Year Sydney Collins (2017-18, Jesuit High School), Kaillen Fried (2016-17, Sherwood High School), Lucy Davidson (2015-16 & and Jill Farley (2013-14, Tualatin High School) among the state's list of former award winners.