Wesleyan boys’ soccer player Harrison Larner has taken advantage of increased playing time received during his senior campaign with six goals and three assists.
Larner saved his best performance to date in the Wolves’ 4-1 home win over King’s Ridge in the first round of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class A Private state playoffs. He scored a goal and posted an assist in the victory.
“Its a new playoff format, so we knew the first-round match was going to be more difficult than years past,” Larner said. “We didn’t know much about King’s Ridge accept that they had a good record against common opponents.”
Wesleyan has won 12 contests this season but saw its offense stall during a two-game losing streak in early April.
“We were struggling to score,” Larner said “We started rotating different players at forward and eventually I got to play there. I’ve tried to control the ball and pass it to our really good players. Every once in a while I can get a header. Liam Coxhead, Jonathan Lopez-Espinosa and Javy Martinez dribble the ball down the field and can pass it to me to tap it in.”
Other offensive highlights late this season including a goal in Wesleyan’s 5-0 win at Riverside Military Academy April 16 and a crucial assist in a 4-2 road victory against Providence Christian April 18. Those wins helped propel the Wolves to the Area 8A regular-season title.
“Harrison is a senior who is a smart, savvy player who always gives 100 percent and does not complain,” Wesleyan head coach Billy Coxhead said.
“When I get the ball in the attacking third, I try to control the ball as long as I can to draw defenders and pass it to one of our midfielders for them to make a play,” Larner said. “I’m also bigger than many of the center backs we play so I try to get headers. This year has been huge because I’ve also grown physically from last year. There’s a whole new level of intensity with the playoffs and have gotten to experience first hand.”
Larner began playing soccer at three years old and has several favorite players including Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.
“I enjoy the sport because I have a lot of friends on the team and I like Coach Coxhead,” Larner said. “He’s honest with us, good tactically and a nice guy. After the game, its fun celebrating with the team whether we win or lose.”
Larner has also been a placekicker for Wesleyan’s football team.
“I’ve played soccer my whole life and was approached to join the football team before freshman year,” he said. “I’ve always said that if you’re a decent soccer player you can be a good kicker and I worked hard at it.”
He will look to continue his career as a walk-on kicker for the Northwestern football team this fall.
Larner, who has a 4.0 grade point average, lists English, particularly AP Language as his favorite class subject. He also completed an AP capstone project on a model to improve kicking accuracy in college football based on statistics.
Larner, the son of Carol Larner, is the president of the school’s Honor Council and a member of the ping pong club and the Young Men’s Service League as a junior. He also hosts the Slice of Sports podcast and plans to pursue a career in sports media.
Wesleyan has now begun preparations for its second-round home tilt against Mount de Sales May 2. Results were not available at the Neighbor’s print deadline.
“Practices have been good,” Larner said. “They’re really good. We’re going to try to play it outside to our midfielders and attack down the wings to get some good scoring opportunities.”