Tanner Schonberger

WOODSTOCK -- Whether it was on the offensive or defensive ends of the field, Tanner Schonberger was a key cog in Etowah’s game plan this season.

The midfielder showed what he could do offensively with seven goals and 10 assists, but he said the ability to chip in defensively was just as important.

“I like being right in the middle,” said Schonberger, the 2019 Cherokee Tribune Boys Soccer Player of the Year. “You get to touch the ball a lot and have control over what’s going on in the game. You get to play in all parts of the field and communicate with everyone. You just get to do a little bit of everything.”

As important as his play was on the field, Schonberger said he placed just as much emphasis on helping teammates in other ways. This season was his second as a team captain, and he said serving as a leader and an example for the rest of the team were motivating factors all season.

“I knew I needed to be a leader this year,” Schonberger said. “I knew it last year, too, but when it’s your second year as captain, you need to do it even more. You have that connection with the coaches and you know you have more responsibility.”

Part of that responsibility was blending a young team that featured players from several different club teams.

Schonberger played his club soccer with the North Atlanta Soccer Association, and while he said both have the club team and the Etowah program had their benefits, he was grateful for the opportunity to play for his school.

“It’s a whole different competitive level,” Schonberger said. “In club, there might be some better players, but there’s something about high school. Everyone is representing their school. You can’t match that in the club level, so it’s great to be able to do both.”

As he attempted to lead the Etowah roster, Schonberger had as much experience to lean on as anyone in the history of the program.

After debuting on varsity as a freshman, he became the first player in program history to appear in four straight postseasons, including a pair of quarterfinal runs, and he leaned on that experience to lead the Eagles back to the playoffs this year.

“Experience definitely helps when you talk about being in that position against tough teams on the big stage,” Schonberger said. “It helps being there before. It prepares you for big games, even when you’re on the bench for a lot of it the first couple years. It eases you in for the later years, when you’re the one who has to step up and make plays.”

Schonberger said he plans to continue to play soccer recreationally in college, but he will miss the competitive aspects of it. He said he will keep an eye on the Etowah program, though, as the next generation of players look to continue the tradition he has helped build.

“We were young this year, so I think they’ll be good,” Schonberger said. “We had a lot of guys get a lot of experience, so I’m excited to see what they can do next season.”

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