Camas High School senior Bennett Lehner has been named the 2015-16 Gatorade Washington Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
The 5-foot-9, 150-pound forward and midfielder has scored 22 goals and delivered 11 assists. He has also maintained a 3.50 GPA in the classroom, and has volunteered locally as a church camp counselor and as a youth soccer coach.
Lehner scored the goal that led the Papermakers to a 1-0 victory against Union in the district championship game, May 10. On Saturday, he scored a goal and delivered an assist to help Camas beat Woodinville 3-0 and get back to the state tournament for the 18th year in a row.
“I wanted two things out of this season, to go to the Final Four and to win Gatorade Player of the Year,” Lehner said. “So, first one down.”
The award, which recognizes athletic excellence, academic achievement and character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Lehner as Washington’s best high school boys soccer player. He is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year award, which will be announced before the end of May.
“It’s overwhelming,” Lehner said. “Honestly, I just thought about the team. I have bonded with this team more than any other team. This award is for all of us.”
Lehner joins Nick Palodichuk (2009-10) and Brent Richards (2007-08) as the only three Camas High School soccer players to win this award.
“Just to be mentioned in the same breath as them is so wild,” Lehner said. “When I was younger, I came to these games and I looked up to those guys so much. To be doing what they did right now is just awesome.”
Lehner looks forward to playing soccer for the University of Dayton, in Ohio, next fall. Right now, it’s springtime and the Papermakers are chasing another state title. Lehner cannot imagine being in a better place than right in the middle of all the action.
“We’ve been to the quarterfinals the last three years. It’s going to take everything to get to that Final Four,” Lehner said. “I’m excited for the challenges ahead. Let’s go.”