Ferguson earns top league award for Providence boys’ soccer

There were no individual aspirations for Elias Ferguson, but a single goal for himself and the rest of the Providence High boys' soccer team for the 2016-17 season.

"Coming into to this year, I really had only one goal, and that was to get a league championship banner," said Ferguson, a junior forward/midfielder. "I wasn't really worried about making all-league or winning any awards like that, I just wanted to help my team as much as I could to get a banner.

"And I think most of the guys on the team thought the same way. That was an important goal and that's what we were focusing on."

Ferguson helped Providence win a share of the Independence League championship and the Pioneers picked up there share of league awards along the way.

Ferguson was named the league's player of the year, while junior forward/midfielder Paul Swaine, senior defender Will Simmons, sophomore goalkeeper Danny Villeda and junior defender Montgomery Greene earned places on the singular all-league team.

The Pioneers (6-6, 5-1 in league) captured the program's first league championship in four years and just the second in program history.

"It was fulfilling for all of us to be able to win league," said Ferguson, whose team shared the title with Canoga Park Armenian General Benevolent Union. "I just wish we didn't make it as close as we did. If we didn't lose our one league game against AGBU, it would have been a lot less nerve-wracking. But in the end, we got the banner, and I'm just happy with that."

Ferguson tallied eight goals.

"He just did so much for us and he played a great deal for us," Providence Coach Ron Neef said. "I think he missed one game because of illness and he came out of another game for about five minutes, but other than that he played just about every minute of every game.

"He was the hardest working player on the team and as he went so did we go. He not only led by example, but when that wasn't enough, he spoke his mind."

Swaine led the Pioneers in offense, scoring 12 goals to go with eight assists.

"I'm sure the league gave serious consideration about making Paul the league MVP," Neef said. "When he was on his game, he physically dominated the game, probably more than anyone else in the league. He was just a real offensive force for us."

Villeda was asked to play in goal after having no previous experience at the position, while Simmons was the team's anchor on defense.

"Danny not only wasn't a natural goalkeeper, but he had never played the position before this season," Neef said. "We had no goalkeeper and I told him at our banquet had it not been for his sacrifice for the team, we would have not been as successful as we were. He accepted the role of goalkeeper and he just played lights out for us this year.

"The thing what Will brought to the team was leadership. He was a quiet leader, but he led by example with his hard work. As a senior, he knew what was expected of him and he knew how important a role he had on the team and he made sure he carried out his responsibilities."

Greene spent most of time on the backline, but played a variety of positions and scored three goals.

"Monty played everything but keeper for us and he could have played keeper if we needed him to," Neef said. "He was our left back primarily and when our play developed out of the back, it was because he moved it forward. And by doing that on a consistent basis, he opened things up for Paul, for Elias and for all of the other guys."