Royce Austen

Kearney High's Royce Austen (23) has been named the Gatorade Nebraska Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Austen scored 16 goals and handed out 16 assists for the 17-1 Bearcats.

CHICAGO — Kearney High’s Royce Austen has been named the Gatorade Nebraska Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

Gatorade is in its 34th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes.

Austen is the first Gatorade Nebraska Boys Soccer Player of the Year to be chosen from Kearney High School.

The 5-foot-7, 150-pound senior midfielder scored 16 goals and passed for 16 assists this past season, leading the Bearcats (17-1) to the Class A state quarterfinals.

Austen is a two-time first-team all-state selection by the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star and concluded his prep soccer career with 63 goals and 35 assists, both school records.

“Royce was the heart and soul of that Kearney team,” said Dave Lawrence, head coach of Papillion-La Vista South High. “Besides scoring goals, he works his butt off defensively to pressure and force the flow of the game.”

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Austen as Nebraska’s best high school boys soccer player.

Austen has volunteered locally collecting Christmas gifts for those in need with Kearney Area Goodfellows and he has donated his time as a youth soccer coach with Kearney Soccer Club and TOPSoccer.

Austen has maintained a B average in the classroom. He has committed to continue his education and soccer career this fall at Nebraska Wesleyan University.

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