Nick Felician’s rise to become the 2017 Gazette MVP in boys soccer actually started with failure.
That might sound strange, but the most prolific scorer in Brunswick history had a five-game stretch to end 2015 that actually pushed him to new heights.
With 15 goals and six assists as a sophomore, Felician was used to being in the mix. So when Padua, Shaker Heights, Revere, Medina and Archbishop Hoban kept him out of the scoring column, it didn’t sit right.
“It pushed me a lot,” Felician said. “I don’t know what was wrong with me those last five games to not push my effort for the team. I don’t know what was going through my head. It was crazy. I didn’t want to do it again my junior and senior years.”
Ben Dotson never had to worry about Felician after that. In fact, the veteran coach never had to worry about much with his all-time leading scorer heading the charge.
In his final 36 games with the Blue Devils, Felician was only kept out of the scoring charts eight times.
“That failure sat in Nick’s mind for a long time,” Dotson said. “He finally figured out how to step up in those moments. We’re really proud of him. Every coach’s dream is to have a player step up in the biggest moments. His mentality was that he wasn’t going to lose. He was going to win the game for his team and that’s why he’s the MVP.”
The numbers back that up.
During Felician’s tenure, Brunswick had more wins (46) than any other four-year stretch in program history. Back-to-back outright Greater Cleveland Conference titles were also a first and the first-team All-Ohioan was a big reason for that.
He exits the Blue Devils as the career leader in points (142) and assists (34) and is second in goals (54). Felician also set season records in goals (26) and points (63) this season and leaves with the most goals in a game (6) and points in a game (13).
“Sometimes he’d drop back in the midfield and sometimes he’d drop back in defense and pick the ball up from the back four,” Medina coach Simon Spelling said. “Sometimes he’d drift up front and play as a striker, but most times he was playing the midfield.
“He was just very difficult because he could play a variety of positions. He’s very difficult to pick up. You never know where he is going to be. As a result, he’s very dangerous.”
Spelling could lead the charge of opposing coaches happy to see Felician off to college. The Bees lost one regular-season game en route to a Division I state final appearance this season and Felician scored the game-winner on Sept. 5.
That became a common theme, as he either scored or assisted on eight game-winners in the Blue Devils’ 12 wins.
While his goal with 6:18 remaining against Medina will be the one most people in the county remember, he almost singlehandedly kept Brunswick’s postseason alive in a 3-2 Medina Sectional final win over Wooster.
Felician sent the Blue Devils into halftime tied 1-1 with a goal less than 10 minutes before the break. When Brunswick leaned on him in the second half, he came through with a game-winner 30 seconds before the end of regulation.
“Oh, my gosh, everybody, including us, had to adjust to the way we played to account for him,” Wadsworth coach John Johnson said. “If he wasn’t scoring the goal, he was creating the assist.
“Just marking him and paying attention to him opened room for other players. He was a distraction whether he had the ball or not because you had to be aware of where he was at. He is probably the most talented player we played against this year.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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