Woodstock Academy Alum Taken in 1st Round of MLS Draft
The Woodstock Academy associate head of school Holly Singleton remembered coaching a summer soccer match for the Centaurs several years ago and, on one occasion, her team was short of players.
Simon Becher showed up to fill in.
“I put him in and the whole offense fell apart,” Singleton recalled. “Everyone was just passing the ball. I pulled Simon out and asked him what he was doing and he said to me that he was just trying to get everyone the ball so they could score. I told him, ‘Everyone is waiting for you to score, Simon.’”
He listened and, of course, he scored.
“He went in, got a really fancy goal, and after that, (the offense) looked beautiful,” Singleton said.
Scoring has never been an issue for Becher.
The 2018 graduate of The Woodstock Academy used his touch around the net to carry him to Oakwood Academy, then on to the College of Holy Cross, St. Louis University and, on Tuesday, Major League Soccer.
The Brooklyn native was chosen with the 16th pick of the first round in the MLS Superdraft by the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
“I’m very proud of his accomplishments, not just because he has become a professional athlete which was always his goal but because he is a classy human being with a good heart. Not only did he achieve his dream, he did so by being a good human being,” Singleton said.
Becher realized his dream while watching the stream of the MLS draft from his home in Brooklyn.
“It felt amazing,” Becher said. “I had no idea. There was no call (from Vancouver) before (the pick) so when it popped up on the TV, it was the first time I heard. It was a dream come true. It was something that I have, honestly, been dreaming about and envisioning since I learned to kick a soccer ball. I’m just excited to get started.”
It sounds easy. It wasn’t. Along the way, Becher had to make some sacrifices. He never played soccer for Woodstock Academy. Instead, he opted to play for Oakwood Soccer Academy in Glastonbury. Oakwood does not allow its players to also play high school soccer.
“Of course, we were always sad that he chose a different route and didn’t play at the school level but it all makes sense. I think he was well supported by the soccer players at school on his path and he was always supporting them. While I do think he may have missed out on the high school glory, I think when you become a professional soccer player, the high school glory goes by the wayside,” Singleton said.
But Becher said it was one of the hardest decisions he had to make. He admitted he missed playing on the same soccer field as his friends.
“Woodstock Academy is a very tight-knit community,” Becher said. “The staff was always supportive. They were always flexible with me missing days because of travel. Obviously, I spent a lot of time up on the Woodstock Academy fields on the weekends in the offseason, using the facilities to train and being with all my friends. They supported me, supported my dream and believed in me.”
One of the teachers he remembers most was Sara Dziedzic, not only from the classroom, but from Model UN.
“It helped me a lot with public speaking,” Becher said.
He was a head delegate for the program according to Dziedzic.
“He’s going to know how to pick his words carefully when dealing with the media and he will make sure he is complimentary. When he criticizes, it’s not going to be to go after the jugular, it’s going to be how to make things better,” Dziezic said.
Becher signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. in early 2018 at Woodstock Academy.
He led the Crusaders in points with 16 as a freshman, getting seven goals and two assists.
But he also realized that he, again, had to move on despite the connections and friendships he had created at Holy Cross.
To achieve his dream, he transferred to St. Louis University.
“I wanted the challenge; wanted somewhere where I would be pushed in my development and grow my game in a bigger market, competing against some of the best teams in the entire country. I think I got that with St. Louis,” Becher said.
The Billikens finished 16-1-4 this past season.
The only loss came in the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight to second-seeded Washington in December.
“Undefeated for 20 games is pretty unheard of,” Becher said. “If you look at everything we achieved in the past year, all the way down the team, (the coaching staff) believed in us. We worked hard and worked hard for each other.”
Becher finished as the second-leading scorer in the NCAA this past season with 38 points; 14 goals (6th best in the NCAA), including five game-winners, and 10 assists.
Becher was a first team United Soccer Coaches All-American and a Hermann Trophy semifinalist and was the fourth member of the Billikens chosen in the draft Tuesday. Teammates Isaiah Parker (3rd), a forward, defender Kipp Keller (5th), and goalie Patrick Schulte (12th) went just before him.
Now, he heads to Vancouver. It’s far from home. He’s never been there, but he has heard it’s beautiful.
“I connected with Coach (Vanni Sartini), the media and (public relations) people (Tuesday). Preseason starts next week so I will be packing my bags and heading up there,” Becher said.
The Whitecaps finished sixth in the Western Conference of the MLS with 49 points; 12 wins, 13 draws and nine losses.
“I bring a work ethic. I bring creativity to the attack, someone who can score, can get assists, a lot of different things. Hopefully, I can make an impact and help them push for the playoffs and win an MLS Cup,” Becher said.
The Woodstock Academy is an independent, day and boarding, co-educational, college preparatory high school for grades 9–I2 and postgraduates located in Woodstock, CT. The mission of The Woodstock Academy is to prepare all students by providing diverse opportunities through a rigorous curriculum and a variety of programs in order to cultivate the necessary skills to become lifelong learners and global citizens.