MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — With his team set to break in a young defense and new goalkeeper this season, Mountlake Terrace boys soccer coach George Dremousis had a message for star striker Bobby Stoyanov.
“We sat down before the season and I told him we’ve just got to try to outscore teams,” Dremousis said. “And he said, ‘Coach, you can count on me.’”
Yet neither of them could’ve foreseen the goal-scoring avalanche that followed.
Stoyanov rewrote the school record books in astounding fashion this season, netting 47 goals and dishing out 14 assists in a spectacular display of individual brilliance.
For his record-shattering senior campaign, Stoyanov is The Herald’s 2018 Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
“It was the single best individual effort I’ve seen in any season of high school or college that I’ve been around,” said Dremousis, who has coached high school and college soccer for more than three decades.
“It was just amazing. He took over and single-handedly won games for us. … He’s a one-in-a-generation type guy.”
The supremely talented Stoyanov netted more goals this season than all but three Wesco 3A teams. He scored or assisted 61 of his team’s 65 goals, leading the Hawks to a 9-9-1 record.
The Bulgarian-born Stoyanov netted at least five goals four times, including a season-high eight-goal onslaught in a 9-0 win over Stanwood on March 27.
“Sometimes before the game I’d half-joke with him and say, ‘Bob, we need five tonight,’” Dremousis said. “And he’d go out and get five.
“I mean, you rarely see a guy get a hat trick. And we’re just taking for granted he’s getting like four or five every night. It was on the fringe of ridiculous at times.”
After logging four goals and eight assists in a more defensive role as a sophomore, Stoyanov exploded for 27 goals and 12 assists last season while leading Mountlake Terrace to the Class 2A state semifinals and the program’s best state finish since 1992. He finished just four goals shy of the longtime single-season school record, set by Dana Garner with 31 goals in 1996.
“I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t get (the record) last year,” Stoyanov said. “This year, that was my goal. (But) it was crazy that I passed it by as much as I did. That was not at all what I expected.”
Stoyanov needed just 13 matches this spring to break the single-season record and finished with a school-record 78 career goals, including 74 over the past two seasons.
“The goals just kept coming and coming,” he said. “My teammates did a really good job of setting me up, and luckily I was able to finish my chances. It was crazy. I can’t even put it into words.
“If you would’ve told me my sophomore year when I had four goals that I would’ve had 47 my senior year, I would’ve laughed at you and been like, ‘You’re crazy.’ But I just put in a lot of work since then, and luckily the results showed. It’s been a crazy ride.”
Stoyanov, who moved with his family from Bulgaria to the United States when he was 14 months old, tied the previous single-game scoring record last season with six goals in a 6-5 win over Liberty-Issaquah in the 2A Northwest District tournament. He then broke the record in his third match this year, netting seven goals in less than 60 minutes of playing time during a 10-1 win over Granite Falls on March 16.
“As a coach, you’re trying to run a balance,” Dremousis said earlier this season. “You don’t want to humiliate another team. But at the same time, I’m trying to respect (Stoyanov) and the fact that setting records to any elite athlete is important. And if a guy’s capable, you want to let them have their opportunity.”
Stoyanov followed with six goals in a March 20 rout of Marysville Getchell, then broke his own single-game record a week later with his eight-goal performance against Stanwood.
“The volume of goals were ridiculous, but they were all quality goals,” Dremousis said. “That was the best part about that game. They weren’t cheap (goals).”
Stoyanov faced frequent double- and triple-teams throughout the latter half of the season, but that didn’t keep him from finding the back of the net.
“Teams would game-plan for him and he’d still (score),” Dremousis said. “He was unstoppable. … There’s really no way to defend him, unless you stack him up and play three players on him, which a lot of guys started doing. And that’s where he started getting some assists, too.”
Dremousis said some of Stoyanov’s greatest strengths are his arsenal of polished moves and ability to finish with either foot.
“Even though he’s a right-footed player, I think his left foot is better from outside the box,” Dremousis said. “I’ve never seen a guy that’s actually right-footed who can hit a left-footed shot as good as Bobby.”
Stoyanov said his left-footed prowess comes from his father, who briefly played professional soccer in Bulgaria.
“He was left-footed, so ever since I was a little kid, he would always try to make me be left-footed like him,” Stoyanov said. “So it’s kind of been almost natural for me to use both feet.”
Stoyanov credited part of his success this season to regular morning training sessions with his father last summer, as well as workouts with a track coach to improve his speed.
“Doing all that throughout the summer really helped me out big-time,” Stoyanov said. “I could tell as soon as I stepped on the field in the fall that that I was just way faster, my touch was better, everything was going better. I just felt like a way better player.”
Stoyanov, who played for the Sounders FC Academy from seventh through ninth grade and again for part of last year, will continue his soccer career overseas at the Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy in England. The academy offers an opportunity to play year-round and gain exposure to professional clubs.
Prior to arriving in England this summer, Stoyanov will visit his native Bulgaria and meet numerous relatives for the first time since his infancy.
“It’s pretty exciting just to have that chance to go see my family that I haven’t seen since I was 1 year old,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Stoyanov also is excited to pursue his lifelong dreams of playing professionally and earning a spot on the Bulgarian national team.
“My number-one goal ever since I’ve been a kid is to play for the Bulgarian national team and play in a World Cup,” he said. “(And) I want to become a pro and make it to the highest level I can.
“That’s always been my dream since I’ve been a little kid. And luckily I have a chance to do that now.”
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