As a sophomore, Sam Wasson was affectionately nicknamed, “Wonderboy” by the seniors on his team. The tag may not have stuck beyond that year, but today there are still plenty off reasons to marvel at his play.
After his breakout season as a sophomore, the Clarence midfielder earned first team All-Western New York honors as a junior. Seven games into this senior year, the name still fits.
“When I was a sophomore I was motivated by a couple seniors, and it kind of rubbed off on me, I kind of wanted to be like them,” said Wasson. “The nickname was pretty cool, I liked it. We all got along, worked together and gave an honest effort as well.”
Wasson, one of only two returning All-WNY players, didn’t earn the area’s biggest postseason honor by being flashy or putting up big numbers. Often his name doesn’t even appear on the scoresheet, but …
“He’s a difference-maker,” said Clarence coach Mike Silverstein, now his 11th season. “Sammy does all the dirty work, he cleans up everything, goes out there, he might be a little dinged up, he’s still going to step on the field. Had a great game against Williamsville North, he probably gave us nine chances to score. He goes out there and does a hard day’s work.”
Wasson has plenty of company in the hard work department. Victor Powell, Max Zwerlein and Nick Godin are returning defenders, along with two-year starting goalie Michael Biedny. Bryan Eliason is back after leading the Red Devils in assists. Patrick Schulz, son of former Buffalo Bill safety Kurt Schulz, leads the team in goals with four. They are among seven returning starters from a team that finished 18-1-1 overall and 12-0 in ECIC I a year ago.
Clarence will be in the hunt for the regular season ECIC I title, but it’s the postseason where the Red Devils really shine. They’ve reached the Section VI Class AA final in nine of the last 10 years, winning six times.
This year’s team’s 6-0 start includes winning the Clarence Classic Tournament, beating Baldwinsville of Section III, 1-0, in the final. The Clarence defense has allowed just one goal this season, a penalty kick against Orchard Park. Silverstein said he’s seen a trend toward low-scoring games.
“It’s becoming more of a defensive game,” he said. “I think teams are being safe in the back, you’re seeing good goaltending and coaches are planning well. You don’t see goal scorers putting up 20-25 goals. You see a lot of 1-0s.”
Clarnece is currently the No. 1-ranked large school coaches poll, and if Wonderboy has his way, they will stay there.