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Times All-North MVP Kearns kept achievements to himself

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ALEXANDRIA — Truly modest and humble, when Ian Kearns received national recognition for his dedication to athletics, he kept the news to himself.

He was so secretive that his coach Robert Bastian didn’t find out the news — that Kearns had been selected as a finalist in the state for the Wendy’s High School Heisman award that recognizes students’ “hard work and dedication in athletics, academics and community/school leadership” — until he read it in the paper.

“The attention is nice, but it’s not really my thing,” Kearns said. “I just play hard, dedicate myself to the sport and try and do the best I can.”

As he has done throughout his scholastic career, Kearns delivered in a big way in his senior season for the Alexandria boys soccer team.

“Ian is never one to boast about something or to go around and tell people that he got this recognition,” Bastian said. “It was played down and I didn’t even know he was getting it. I read it in the paper, and when I congratulated him about it, he was very low key.”

For his all-around efforts, Kearns has been selected as the Times’ boys soccer Most Valuable Player in the Frontier League.

“He’s very humble,” Bastian said. “The best thing about Ian Kearns is that he could score six goals, but if we lost, he would be upset. And if we won and he didn’t score, he was happy — it was team first with him.”

Kearns continued his prolific scoring by tallying 30 goals and 11 assists for 71 points to lead the league in all three categories.

“He’s a hard worker,” Bastian said. “And the one thing about Ian this year is he didn’t have a great team around him. If you look at the amount of goals both he and our team scored — if we didn’t have him, it would have been a long year.”

With his unselfish play, Kearns carried the Purple Ghosts in a leadership role this season.

“From where the program started, it’s been great to be a part of its success the past two years,” Kearns said. “And hopefully we can keep Alex Bay on top, this is big for the school.”

After a junior campaign in which he totaled 20 goals and 16 assists, Kearns drew plenty of attention from opposing teams and was often double-teamed.

“He never missed a game and he’s extremely tough,” Bastian said. “He got bounced this year like crazy, he had a lot of attention. Everybody knew that if you could stop him, you could stop the Bay. He had to pick himself off the ground an awful lot.”

However, Kearns still produced offensively under these adverse conditions.

“Just knowing that other teams were always going to be watching out for me, I knew I had to pass the ball a little bit better,” Kearns said. “It just put a lot of pressure on me to perform and to come out every game and keep doing what I was doing.”

Kearns started the season auspiciously as he scored a school-record six goals in a 9-0 victory over Belleville Henderson.

“His aggressiveness and his ability to take the ball to the net,” said Bastian of Kearns’ main attributes. “When he was young, he wasn’t timid, but he wasn’t constantly looking for that opening to score. That was his best thing, he’s very fast and his first step can beat the defense, and he decided to take the ball to the net.”

He finished with 70 goals and 35 assists during his career with Alexandria — all school records.

“He came up to varsity as freshman, maybe one game at halfback, one player got hurt and was moved up and stayed there,” Bastian said. “He got to play there every game as a freshman and a sophomore and that was a invaluable experience for him.”

But aside from his offensive numbers, Kearns’s work ethic is one of his best attributes, according to Bastian.

“He’s such a hard worker and he just keeps at it,” Bastian said of Kearns, who is a member of the National Honor Society.

“I’ve been playing soccer year round for probably about six years,” Kearns said. “I play other sports, but I just can’t stop playing soccer.”

Kearns led the Purple Ghosts to the Frontier League’s “D” championship game for the second consecutive season after he guided Alexandria to its first regular-season and playoff divisional crowns last year.

“We felt like we were the underdogs all season this year,” Kearns said. “Everyone knew we were 16-0 last year and we lost a lot of guys. We just wanted to come out every game and show that we were still the same team — we’re still going to play hard, and we’re still going to win.”

Kearns, who also plays basketball, is looking forward to playing soccer at the college level.

“He’s really been a special player for our program and we’re going to miss him,” Bastian said.

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