Soccer

The Herald’s 2021 Boys Soccer Player of the Year: Azavier Coppin

The Herald’s 2021 Boys Soccer Player of the Year: Azavier Coppin

It didn’t take long for Azavier Coppin to announce his presence as a premier goal scorer on the local high school soccer scene.

And the bad news for future Wesco opponents: They likely have to face him for two more years.

In his first season of prep soccer, Coppin netted 17 goals and provided four assists while leading Glacier Peak to a 5-1-4 campaign. The sophomore forward scored in eight of the Grizzlies’ 10 matches and had five multi-goal performances, including four hat tricks.

For his standout season, Coppin is The Herald’s 2021 All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

“He was exceptional, (especially) for being a sophomore,” Glacier Peak coach Teddy Mitalas said. “It was really exciting to have a player like him on our team. … He just has an eye for the goal.

With his elite speed, playmaking prowess and ambidextrous finishing ability, Coppin accounted for a massive chunk of the Grizzlies’ scoring. He netted or assisted 21 of Glacier Peak’s 28 goals, including a stretch over the last four matches when he scored or assisted all nine of his team’s goals.

That’s not to say the Grizzlies were simply a one-man show. They had a talented young core around Coppin, evidenced by their league-high six first-team All-Wesco 4A selections — five of whom were either sophomores or juniors.

But it was Coppin, undoubtedly, who carried the load. Mitalas said a lot of his team’s attack this spring consisted of sending through balls to the sophomore phenom — and then letting him do the rest.

We do have a good team,” Mitalas said. “We do knock it around. But with his speed and utilizing through balls to him and letting him take people one-on-one and stuff like that, … basically, we’d let him just do what he needed to do.”

Coppin spent a lot of time on the wing this season. But he also played at striker, where his coach said he really excelled.

“That’s when he would explode,” Mitalas said, “because he would just take kids on, take them down the middle and beat ‘em because of his speed.”

Coppin didn’t get a chance to showcase his talents for Glacier Peak last year as a freshman, due to the season being canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But he sure hit the ground running this spring. In his very first high school match, he found the back of the net to help the Grizzlies earn a 1-1 draw against Wesco 4A rival Lake Stevens. And in his second match, he scored the first of his four hat tricks.

Coppin said he benefited from the fact he and a handful of his Glacier Peak teammates also play club soccer together for Snohomish United.

“It was easy to gel with the team, especially having a couple standout players that I already knew,” he said. “I knew how they played, and they knew how I played. The chemistry was already built. We didn’t have to start brand-new.

One of Coppin’s biggest performances came in a late-season match against Arlington, when he scored two impressive goals to give Glacier Peak a 2-2 draw against one of Wesco’s top teams.

In the first half of that match, Coppin used his blazing speed to sprint past two defenders down the right wing and receive a through ball. Then, with a defender on his heels, he took a small touch and coolly booted the ball past the goalkeeper to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead.

“It was hard for (opposing) teams to control him, just because of his speed,” Mitalas said.

Then after Glacier Peak fell behind 2-1 in the second half, Coppin struck again. Coppin was on the left side of the pitch when a nearby teammate, a few yards to his left, delivered a short centering pass that carried him toward the left hash marks. Coppin took a few steps toward the rolling ball and then blasted a one-timer from 23 yards out, firing a perfectly placed shot into the upper-left corner of the net for a spectacular equalizer.

“One of the nicest goals I’ve ever seen scored,” Mitalas said. “… And for a high school kid, a sophomore, to do that — I don’t care what level you’re playing at, it was pretty nice.”

Moments like that are a big reason why Mitalas said he already can’t wait to see what Coppin and the Grizzlies can accomplish next year — in what he hopes will be a normal season, with a full slate of matches and a postseason. With Coppin and a talented nucleus set to return, the program’s future certainly seems bright.

“I know a lot of (opposing) coaches are really worried about (Azavier) for the next two years,” Mitalas said. “We were a young team this year, so we should come back with a ball of fire next year.

“I’m just happy to have him for two more years,” he added. “… I can’t wait to coach him again.”

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