Walsingham's 'pure scorer' takes top honors in boys soccer

Contact Reporterkholtzman@vagazette.com

In the fall, Solvi Bjornsson said scoring goals came naturally but that he had not been a superstar striker for his club in Reykjavik, Iceland prior to his one-year stint as a Walsingham Academy exchange student.

At the time, Bjornnson had netted 33 goals in 12 for matches for the Trojans before finishing with 54 goals in 25 games along with five assists to earn Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II player of the year honors.

Bjornsson, the 2016-17 Virginia Gazette Boys Soccer Player of the Year, clearly acclimated well to the transition of contributor in Europe to star player in the independent ranks of Virginia.

"Solvi is one of the best pure scorers we have ever had a Walsingham," athletic director Neil Bailey said. "The thing that makes him most unique is his tenaciousness around the goal. He would let nothing get in his way from scoring."

Bjornsson, who will finish high school in Iceland before pursuing a professional career, was downright clinical with his finishes. To be fair, so was Jamestown freshman Michael Meese, in tallying 29 goals and 12 assists. Meese and teammate Kevin Tripp (26 goals, 10 assists) each earned all-state honors to lead the Eagles within a shootout of the state semifinals, as did Walsingham defender Connor Norris, Bruton midfielder Chuckie Tenbusch and Lafayette's Justin Wilson.

Bjornsson was at the forefront of the area's strong play, leading Walsingham to a 16-5-4 finish that ended in the VISAA Division II quarterfinals. Bjornsson appeared to score the winner against Trinity at Meadow View in extra time but the goal was disallowed before the Trojans fell 7-6 in penalty kicks.

For a snapshot of his spectacular season, see the Icelander's performance against perennial power and eventual VISAA Division I champion St. Christopher's School of Richmond.

St. Christopher's lost only one match all season and had one draw, to Walsingham in an early-season tournament. Bjornsson scored twice to make it 2-0 before St. Christopher's rallied to tie it and eventually win in penalty kicks. It was not the result Walsingham wanted but was emblematic of how Bjornsson fueled the attack in a ledger that included a narrow loss to Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools power Norfolk Academy and 6-0 romp over Richmond's Benedictine when Bjornsson tallied a hat trick.

"He's a goal scorer and that is an unusual thing to find," Walsingham coach Richard Plank said in December. "The other thing that was different this year is we had guys that got him the ball in good places and we had other guys that knew what to do to put him in good situations. When we were at full strength, we had multiple weapons and that made it very difficult for people to defend us…

"It was fun to watch when he got the ball around the 18-yard box. Something was going to happen. It wasn't a matter of whether he was going to score or not, it was when."

Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.

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