Seneca soccer players win regional awards

Shane Lovett and Elkin Bonilla-Hernandez took home South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association honors for their contributions to the Golden Eagles.

In Olympic Conference action Thursday, Oct. 22, the Seneca Golden Eagles boy’s soccer team traveled to Bishop Eustace Preparatory School to take on the Crusaders. Seneca defeated Bishop Eustace 1-0 in the contest. In this photo, the starting 11 for Seneca huddle before the start of the game (Matthew Shinkle/The Sun).

The South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association awarded two Seneca students with prestigious awards. Shane Lovett took home the scholarship award, while Elkin Bonilla-Hernandez was named “Most Courageous Athlete.”

Academically, Lovett did extremely well in the most challenging academic curriculum available. He has a 6.0 grade point average having only received straight As in an academic curriculum that only included AP and honors courses. He is the number one ranked student in our graduating class In addition, Shane’s SAT scores are very strong, matching his work ethic to his ability.

What defines Lovett, however, is his demeanor, said Coach Sam Maira. He is always calm, never rushed, and often seen helping others. He makes everything look easy, although I know he works very hard.

As a soccer athlete, Lovett is the playmaker in the center of the field. He works hard and has a beautiful touch on the ball. As in the classroom, Shane makes it look easy. His play on the field mirrors his actions in the classroom, always poised and under control. He literally controls the pace of a game for our team. However, what sets him apart is the respect that his teammates and coaches have for him. He has been a unanimous choice as team captain two years running, an honor bestowed on him by his teammates. Of course, his teammates respect him for his abilities on the field, but I think the respect runs even deeper for the person he is. He encourages without being abrasive, leads without being pompous, plays, and lives life with an unselfishness that makes everyone around him better. Lovett is a young man who not only excelled on and off the playing field but also is of great moral character.

Bonilla-Hernandez is a most deserving recipient for the South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association Most Courageous Athlete Award. He and his brother, as middle school-aged kids, walked, got rides, and otherwise willed themselves to get from Honduras to Texas where they made it to an airport to finally come to NJ and reunite with their mother. Bonilla-Hernandez’s brother Owen, who is two years older, said Elkin Bonilla-Hernandez became sick during the journey and he thought  he was not going to make it. 

Bonilla-Hernandez became a part of the Seneca High School soccer team his sophomore year. He made an immediate impact as a starter who scored 10 goals and had 6 assists as a part of a Seneca championship team that will go down as the best team in the history of our school. During his junior and senior years he was selected as a captain and led Seneca’s team to two more very successful seasons. While we hope Seneca Soccer had a contributing hand to his success on the field, in the school and community, it is our program that reaped many rewards by having Bonilla-Hernandez as an integral part of our team, Maira said. He is loved by many for the infectious positive energy he gives off and his undying passion for the beautiful game of soccer. We are all better people for him entering our school and community.