Manchester Valley boys soccer coach Andrew Harrell was amazed at how well Connor Allen started the 2017 varsity season.
The junior forward notched a goal and an assist in 4-1 victory over Middletown in a weekend tournament beginning Sept. 1. Allen followed that performance by netting two goals and adding an assist in a 3-0 win over Walkersville the next day.
“In my opinion, he was the tournament MVP, and he single-handedly put our team on his back for those games,” Harrell said. “He had a hand in every goal. In my six years of coaching at the varsity level, I’ve never had a player have that good of a tournament in back-to-back games. I knew Connor was on his way to a fantastic season.”
Unfortunately for Allen, his opponents became aware of his prowess as well, making him the center of attention for rival defenders.
“Going into each and every game, I think teams made game plans for him to try and take him away,” Harrell said. “And he still created [plenty of] goals and assists after that tournament.”
Allen helped Manchester Valley to a program-best 14-3 record, a regional title, and a berth in a Class 3A state semifinals. The Times Boys Soccer Player of the Year also earned first-team all-state honors from the Maryland Association of Coaches of Soccer.
Allen, a 5-foot-8, 130-pound three-year varsity starter, said that a position change from midfield to forward and lifting weights led to a stellar season in which he compiled a county-best 10 assists to go along with 10 goals to become the county's second-leading scorer.
Manchester Valley junior Connor Allen is the Times Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
“Those stats don’t tell the whole story of Connor’s year,” Harrell said. “We wanted to get him the ball as much as possible. There were probably another 20 goals that he created by our offense running through him. When assists are recorded, it’s the first pass, then the goal. But a lot of times, Connor was the second or third pass before the goal that created the opportunity.”
As a sophomore, Allen led Manchester Valley in goals (eight) and assists (five).
“I had a better year this season because I was bigger and faster,” Allen said. "I got the ball more up top when I played striker. I would feed the ball off to people around me or take the shot if I had one.
“I wanted to change positions. I play striker for my club team [Baltimore Celtic], and it’s my favorite position,” he added.
There were other games in which Allen made a difference offensively as well, including a goal and an assist in a 4-1 conquest of Francis Scott Key on Sept. 27. Allen also had a goal and assist in a 3-2 overtime loss to eventual county champion Liberty eight days later.
“He had one of the hardest shots I’ve ever seen,” Harrell said. “He can put it anywhere he wants to with incredible power. On a goal against Liberty, he received a cross from the sideline, took it off his chest and volleyed to the opposite corner. He made it look easy.”
Added Francis Scott Key coach Larry Haines: “He had a heck of a shot, and it was the best in the county.”
The 16-year-old Allen was also a valuable leader for the Mavericks. Harrell said “was like an assistant coach.”