BY MATT PARRINO
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Nate Holler leads Tonawanda with 15 goals and is one of the most dangerous offensive threats in ECIC soccer.
What really drives fear into the hearts of every other team in the conference is that he is only a sophomore.
Holler began playing soccer when he was 4 years old and his physical attributes allow him to impose his will on the pitch. He is good with the ball at his feet because he's quick. He's a real student of the game and Warriors coach James Gabor said he gets better every day.
"For being only a sophomore he plays like he's a senior — like he has that kind of experience," Gabor said. "He can make things happen, knows where to be and knows the runs to make ... Obviously you can see by looking at him — physically he doesn't look like a sophomore."
Gabor's philosophy on winning soccer is centered around playing the best 11 players in an effort to give the team its best chance to win. Some guys on the team end up playing defense despite having offensive skills, but there's been a collective effort by the Warriors to do what's best for the team, even if that means playing a different position than they're used to.
Playing at an elite level in varsity soccer requires a commitment to training and a contant emphasis on consistency, according to Holler.
"Sometimes you have a really good game, but you have to get right back on the practice field and make sure you're doing the right things to get ready for your next game," he said. "I feel like I can hold my own with pretty much everybody on the field I come up against."
Holler said he loves playing with his teammates, because everyone has bought into the team concept and every player looks out for one another. Phil Guiga and Jake Choate are seniors on the club and Holler looks up to both players. He said they've nicknamed themselves "the three-headed monster."
The offensive-minded forward said he knows how important defense is and the value of being a balanced player, but scoring goals is the name of the game.
"We try to be balanced as much as possible but you have to put the ball in the back of the net to win games," Holler said. "You can't rely on defense the whole time."
Last season the Warriors finished 8-9-1 and made a run in the playoffs to the sectional finals. Holler said the road will be tougher this season, as the competition in Section VI is as competitive as ever.
Gabor is hoping the Warriors — with 11 seniors and Holler — can make some noise the next few weeks.
"They've been coming along," he said. "We've competed against some of the tougher teams and we've beaten the teams we should beat. We'll see what happens as we get down the road."
That road begins this afternoon when the Warriors take on the Charter School for Applied Technology. As far as the future goes, Gabor said it will be a real treat being able to watch Holler develop over the next few years.
"There's times I even have to take a step back and realize he's only a sophomore," Gabor said. "You look at him like the same as everyone else. I look forward to him learning the game more and becoming more of a complete player."
Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.