De Smet midfielder Henry Lawlor capped off his senior season by being recognized as an all-American.
Lawlor was named to the United Soccer Coaches Association’s all-American team that was recently released.
“To even be nominated was a big deal to me,” Lawlor said. “They told me all the guys I was up against and it was a lot of great players. I didn’t think I’d get it. When I did get it, it was even crazier.
“I saw through e-mails from the soccer association I had made it. Then my coach (Josh Klein) pulled me out of English class to confirm it. It’s great.”
Klein was happy for Lawlor.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Klein said. “It’s one of the top honors a high school soccer player can receive. Henry played with lots and lots of energy. Other coaches described him to me as ‘one of the most dynamic players in the area.’ “
Lawlor is the 13th All-American at De Smet. The others include Sam Bick (’72), Eric Delabar (’75), Bill McKeon (’79), Brian Donnelly (’87), Rob Lindell (’88), Matt McKeon (’92), Harry Weiss (’92), Chris Klein (’94), Pat Noonan (’99), Will Bruin (’08), Louis Berra (’11), and Josh Lindell (’18).
Lawlor also was named the Class 4 Co-Player of the Year by the Missouri Soccer Coaches Association. In addition, he was the District 5-8’s Player of the Year.
“It’s just so humbling,” Lawlor said. “A lot of the guys aren’t getting the rewards they should. Nothing was possible for me without my teammates. They make me look good.”
“To be able to say you’re one of the very best (in Class 4) is quite an accomplishment,” Klein said. “He shares it with Joseph Achugo, an electric player in the midfield from Lee’s Summit.”
Lawlor helped the Spartans win the state title with a scored the decisive goal in penalty kicks. De Smet defeated Lee’s Summit 1-0. After 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, it went to penalty kicks.
Lawlor led off the penalty kicks. He missed. However, he got another chance and he redeemed himself. The final tally in penalties was 11-10 for De Smet and the Spartans claimed a 1-0 victory and the state championship at the World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton.
The Spartans spent time in every practice on penalty kicks.
“We practice in a special order every day,” Lawlor said .”I always went first in practice.”
Klein had no reason to change in the title game.
“My opinion, your best kicker takes the first one, then your second best, and so on,” Klein said. “You want to make sure your best PK takers get a chance before the contest is up. Henry’s knocked several PKs home this season and in practice. Add that to his confidence and we knew he’d be the best guy to give us a chance at winning.”
However, Lee’s Summit goalie Jackson Wells stopped Lawlor.
“I went bottom right,” Lawlor said. “He got a hand on it. It was frustrating. I felt like I let my team down in that moment.”
Klein noted Lawlor didn’t let his emotions get the best of him. He said Lawlor handled it “obviously, better than I did.” In 2018, De Smet played for the state title and lost.
“When I saw him miss the first PK of the night, I thought to myself, ‘Oh god, not again. Please not again. Don’t let this be a sign of how the night’s gonna go.’ ” Klein said.
Lawlor would get a second chance.
“When it came time to allow the players to take a PK for the second time, Henry wanted to watch a few more before he made his decision on his location, but he definitely told the coaches he wanted to take one,” Klein said.
Lawlor said he was studying the goalie. He was trying to pick up some tendencies.
“I got to kick in the third round. It was the 13th kick,” Lawlor said. “In the third position, I wanted to study the goalie. I saw he was diving. I went clean down the middle and right in the back of the net. I was glad to see it go in.”
Lee’s Summit missed its next kick and De Smet was state champs.
“When it happened, honestly words can’t even describe it,” Lawlor said. “I went into shock almost.”
The state title capped a career that began when Lawlor came out as a freshman and made the sophomore team. That let Lawlor know he had work to do.
“I was pretty disappointed. I wanted to make the varsity,” Lawlor said. “I worked in weight room. I made varsity as a sophomore.”
Klein said it was just a matter of time for Lawlor before he moved up and established himself.
“Henry caught our attention because he’s a very technical player,” Klein said. “Fast footwork and good vision were his strong points early on. What I think set him over the top was his fitness, both physical and mental.”
Lawlor said he matured as well.
“When I was younger, I was really cocky out there,” Lawlor said. “It’s really humbled me to a lot. The players I’ve played with have all be really good.”
As a sophomore and junior, Lawlor was a winger. This season he became a midfielder. He likes the position.
“I wanted to do it. It’s an important position and I wanted that role,” Lawlor said. “Everything goes though you offensively and you play a big part defensively. I like having the ball as much as I can.”
Klein liked how Lawlor handled the position this fall.
“Henry draws lots of attention,” Klein said. “When he can play unselfishly, he can draw two or three defenders in to him very close which frees up some of our other players nearby for great options to attack.”
Lawlor worked hard to get ready for this season. Coming close in 2018 and not winning let him with a bad taste.
“After losing in the state finals in the previous year, I wanted to go back to the state championship,” Lawlor said. “I ran every day during the summer. I was extremely driven. That loss hurt really bad. We all put in the work and we came so close.”
Klein liked what he saw from Lawlor back in August.
” He came to preseason camp this year ready to go—super fit and confident,” Klein said. “It was evident in the summer. He worked harder and trained longer than most of the other guys. By tryouts, he was the fittest we had ever seen. This sent a huge message to the coaches and the team that he was ready to lead by example.”
Lawlor was a team captain. He did well in the role, Klein said.
“Henry’s a very honest, impulsive individual which can be good in times of struggle,” Klein said. “When we found ourselves in a rut midseason, the coaches needed honest feedback on the status of the team. Henry provided a lot of very helpful information that not many players would feel comfortable sharing. Being able to have difficult conversations as an 18-year-old is impressive.”
Lawlor said he is “not sure” about playing in college.
“If the right opportunity came, I would take it,” Lawlor said.
For now, he’s done playing.
“It’s gone by fast,” Lawlor said of his high school career. “Everybody told me that. I said yeah whatever. Once you are a senior and when the final whistle blows, it’s over. There’s not another season.”
Klein said it will be different without having Lawlor around the program.
“We’re going to miss his contagious-style of play out there, of course, but I’m going to miss his personality the most,” Klein said. “He made practices, games, meetings, etc. fun. He loved to compete and loved the fact that he got to play soccer every day.”