As a freshman, Alex McGill had a built-in resource whenever he went to soccer practice or games.

McGill’s older brother Lucas was a senior that year and helped Alex transition to high school soccer. The younger McGill earned a spot in Columbus North’s starting lineup and never relinquished it.

Lucas McGill moved on to Indiana State this year, but his brother certainly wasn’t without support on the Bull Dogs’ squad. The bond Alex had forged with his older teammates carried over into this season.

The sophomore forward, who said he misses playing with his brother, admitted to being a little apprehensive before last season, when he netted seven goals.

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“I guess I was really scared as a freshman playing against way older kids,” McGill said.

Those fears were alleviated this year. McGill led North with 20 goals and added five assists to earn The Republic Boys Soccer Player of the Year honors.

Bull Dogs coach Andy Glover said McGill worked hard this season, particularly playing with his back to the goal, and at getting his teammates involved in the midfield. That created more space behind the opposing defense’s back line and allowed him to move into that space and score more goals, making the team more comprehensive and dynamic.

Glover also praised McGill’s defensive efforts to help the team regain and retain possession and stretch the opposition. The coach said McGill pushed hard in both training and match play and is constantly striving to maximize on his efforts.

With McGill leading the way, North had its best season since 2013. The Bull Dogs went 15-6-1 and won a regional title before falling to eventual Class 2A state champion Evansville Memorial on penalty kicks in the semistate semifinals.

That tournament run came on the heels of a 7-7-3 season and a loss in the sectional in McGill’s freshman year.

“Throughout the season, we were looked at as the underdogs, and it was pretty nice that we could prove to all the other teams that we actually were meant to go that far in the tournament,” McGill said.

At a glance

The Republic 2016 All-Area Boys Soccer team:

Alex McGill, Columbus North: The sophomore forward led the Bull Dogs with 20 goals and added five assists.

Rico Hollenkamp, Columbus North: The junior center midfielder scored six goals and led the Bull Dogs with 10 assists.

Jannis Anderson, Columbus North: The junior center back led a defense that allowed only 24 goals in 22 games.

Ian Hussey, Columbus North: The senior midfielder netted two goals and one assist.

Nick Beales, Columbus North: The senior forward tallied five goals and three assists.

Zack Friend, Columbus North: The sophomore center back helped lead a defense that allowed only 24 goals in 22 games.

Scott Hammond, Columbus East: The junior center back led a defense that allowed only 16 goals in 16 games.

Eli Newell, Columbus East: The junior center midfielder recorded one goal and two assists.

Dustin Rodgers, Columbus East: The junior forward led the Olympians with eight goals and added two assists.

Justin Copas, Columbus East: The junior forward scored three goals and led the Olympians with five assists.

Jayvon Thomas, Columbus East: The junior forward netted four goals and two assists.

Adrian Miller, Jennings County: The junior midfielder and center back led the Panthers with seven goals and seven assists.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Will Ryan, Noah Seidle. Columbus Christian: Kyle Foster. Columbus East: Graydon Chisholm, Landon Miles, Simon Tunny. Columbus North: Jeremias Dela Cruz, Vinicius Viana. Hauser: Kyler Davis, Andrew Titus, Pete Trotter. Jennings County: Robbie Beal. Trinity Lutheran: AJ Goecker, Kohei Nagino.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.