Basketball may be Drew Hayward’s favorite sport, but his athletic success transcends the hardwood.
The Woodland High School senior now ranks among the top scorers in state schoolboy soccer history after netting his 100th career goal during a recent game at Shead High School in Eastport.
“I got by the defender on the left side and the goalie started to come out, so I tried to shoot for the low corner, and it bounced off the goalie and went into the upper corner,” Hayward said in describing the landmark goal, the second of six he scored during that contest.
Hayward has added five goals since then, including three during Thursday’s 6-1 victory over neighboring Calais to rank second all-time in Maine’s boys soccer circles with 109 career goals.
“Drew has a great first touch on the ball,” Woodland head coach Carl Ripley said. “He’s just naturally gifted. When he came in as a freshman you could just tell that he was going to be one of those kids who was going to score.”
Hayward, a fourth-year starter for the Dragons, is one of six Maine boys soccer players to surpass the century mark in goal scoring.
Ian Lee of Madawaska, now a senior playing at Husson University in Bangor, leads the list compiled by the Maine Soccer Coaches Association with 127 career goals scored from 2010 to 2013.
Hayward’s hat trick against Calais enabled him to move into second place past Bradley Wilcox of Bangor Christian, who netted 107 goals from 2008 through 2011.
Other boys’ 100-goal club members are former Major League Soccer player Roger Levesque of Falmouth (106 goals, 1995 to 1998), Scott Johnson of Georges Valley of Thomaston (105, 1978 to 1981) and Ethan Spaulding of Greater Portland Christian School (102, 2013 to 2016).
“It’s been a goal since freshman year,” Hayward said of the 100-goal milestone.
Hayward also is a standout guard in basketball who helped Woodland capture the 2018 Class D North championship. He sees similarities in how he creates offense in those sports, although the nets are vastly different.
“In both sports I try to look for the best opportunity to get the ball to the net, whether it’s better to go to the net myself or cross the ball to a teammate,” said Hayward, who also is a pitcher-infielder for the Dragons baseball team. “Sometimes the defense collapses on me and my teammates will be wide open.”
A dose of individual acceleration with the ball on Hayward’s foot doesn’t hurt, either.
“He’s got what my assistant coach [Thomas Brown] calls ‘right-now speed,’” Ripley said. “A lot of people have that ‘all-day speed,’ which you need in soccer, but you also need that right-now speed and Drew’s got that to get by people a little bit quicker.”
Hayward scored 19 goals as a freshman at Woodland in 2015, then erupted for 38 goals during his sophomore year as the Dragons went undefeated until being upended in the Class D North quarterfinals by Central Aroostook of Mars Hill.
Hayward has continued to score at a fairly prolific pace, with 26 goals last fall and 26 more during the Dragons’ 9-1 start this fall.
“Knowing he was on the brink of 100 goals and knowing there was a possibility at the state record, he still looks to pass first, believe it or not,” Ripley said. “I told him earlier this year, ‘You’re probably the best passer on the team, but I can’t figure out a way for you to pass it to yourself.’”
Finding the net isn’t always easy for Hayward.
“The last two years teams have been putting multiple defenders on me during the game and it’s been harder to get my shots off,” said Hayward, an MSCA Class D North all-star each of the past two seasons. “There are fewer shots during the game, so I have to make them count.”
Hayward has added leadership duties to his responsibilities on this year’s team, which through Thursday’s play was ranked fourth in Class D North and had outscored its opposition 61-11.
“I wanted to be a captain this year, so I could help the team in as many ways as I can and to teach the younger guys what to do when they’re on the field,” he said. “We have some pretty good young talent coming up that we’re trying to fit into the right spots, so when it comes to the playoffs we’re ready.”
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