Oneida senior Zac Burchfield was named the 2018 Region 3-A defensive MVP. (Sarah Dunlap/IH)

Oneida senior Zac Burchfield has been named the Region 3-A defensive most valuable player, Indians soccer coach Derek Keeton announced last week.

Burchfield was part of an effort that led Oneida to an appearance in the District 5-A and Region 3-A championship games, as well as the school’s first-ever substate appearance before the Indians came up short against Alcoa.

Burchfield was also named to the Region 3-A all-region team, along with seniors Toby Hacker and Ethan Sexton, and freshman Danner Keeton.

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“This is a much-deserved award for Zac Burchfield,” Keeton said. “The opposing coach from Cumberland Gap said it best about Zac as our sweeper: ‘He was a beast back there.’”

While the Indians’ forwards got a lot of credit as Oneida rolled to an historic season, it was often tough for opponents to score on the Indians. Oneida had three shutout wins and won three more games in which only one goal was given up.

In a pivotal April stretch, Oneida went 4-0 and gathered momentum in district play while outscoring its opponents by a total of 23-4.

“Zac is an extremely talented defensive player, much like a center fielder in baseball in that he has tremendous range covering balls that are dangerous,” said Oneida assistant coach Phil Newport, who handled the Indians’ defensive assignments. “His best games wrere usually when we were playing top-shelf teams. He is a very deserving player to be recognized from our team and his best attribute is his willingness to be coached and use that insight well in the field.”

Newport pointed out that Cumberland Gap’s Nicholas Neverstitch, a standout player who was named the region’s most valuable player, had no goals and just one assist in two playoff games against the Indians.

Jayson Upton, also from Cumberland Gap, was named the region’s offensive MVP, while the Panthers’ Jake Bullins was named the region’s goalkeeper of the year.

Joining the quartet of Indians on the all-region team were Neverstitch, Upton, Bullins, Drew Ramsey and Gage Ellison from Cumberland Gap, and Ignacio Lopez, Hudson Harvey and Gabriel Romero from Sweetwater.

“I’m very proud of the much-deserved individual awards that have come to our Oneida players because those awards were first made possible by the overall success of the team,” Keeton said.

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