by Calli Newberry
One might say scoring a goal as a freshman in your first-ever varsity soccer match foreshadows a fantastic high school career. For Landen Swoish, it was just the result of practicing the game he loves.
Two years later, the North Branch junior scored his 33rd goal of the season to break the five-year record originally set by Riley Schlaud in 2017.
“I didn’t really think of the record, I didn’t even know that that was achievable. Freshman year I think I only had like 12 goals, and that was with a bunch of talented seniors and a good group of guys,” Swoish said of his latest achievement. “And now this year I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve already got the record with three games left.”
Advertisements - Click the Speaker Icon for Audio
Swoish had tied the school record with his 32nd goal on Monday night against Croswell-Lexington, getting himself well on track to score 33 by the end of the season. Midway through Wednesday’s game against Imlay City, he finally got that 33rd goal and a new school record.
“Strangely enough, he acted like it was just another goal. I think the kids on the team reacted more than he did,” head coach John Burke said. “I’m sure he was extremely happy but he just doesn’t really go crazy about that.”
For Swoish, the record is more than just a personal achievement. It’s an opportunity to help the program to which he’s dedicated countless hours.
“It means a lot, even to just the team and to inspire more kids to come out and make the program better,” he said. “We need more guys. We’re not low on numbers, but we could use a couple more guys if we could get them. It just means a lot to the school and a lot to me to show that we can do well and help the school out.”
Burke said this 33rd goal comes at a perfect time. The Broncos are currently 8-8, (6-4 in the BWAC), with only two games left before District play beginning on Oct. 18. He said that being a part of a record has boosted his players’ morale and has made them more excited as they head into the playoffs.
“The team was counting down as much as he was I think,” Burke said. “Everybody is just a little more excited to play thinking that they can be part of a record so it’s a good feeling going into the District playoffs.
They’re even more excited that they could potentially be a part of yet another record in the same season. The current school record for assists scored in one season is 18, and Swoish has 16 so far, but he said that won’t be the focus of their games.
“We don’t really try to set up plays, we just go into the game trying to take the W,” Swoish said. “We’re not focused on records or anything, but if it happens it happens.”
And if it doesn’t happen, he’s still got next year. But in between now and then, he has a lot to accomplish.
Swoish is the kicker on the North Branch football team as well, which won the District title last year. He was named to the Second-Team All-District as a result, and was later named All-District in baseball too. Oh, and he also plays basketball.
Tonight, he will help his soccer team attempt another victory over Almont on the road, and then travel straight to Richmond for the 7 o’clock football game.
“Everybody respects him and he makes the other kids better which is all you can ask someone to do. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. He never misses practices and never misses a game,” Burke said. “During the summer he’s probably at the fields for nine hours a day. We do a two-hour practice and football does a six-hour practice, so he spends his entire day at the fields pretty much…He does not stop the entire year.”
Burke said the combination of sports has helped him in his soccer game, but even so, he wasn’t expecting a record-breaking season from Swoish.
“He spends a lot of time in the weight room. He’s gotten a lot bigger physically and stronger and quicker. He works at his game constantly. He always wants to know what he can improve and he’s really strong when he has the ball,” Burke said. “I expected him to do well this year, but I think he would even tell you that we weren’t expecting at least 33 goals.”
Swoish said of all his sports, soccer is his favorite, and if possible, he’d like to continue on in college.
“I’d like to, if I can get into a college that has a medical option for four years,” he said. “I want to be a nurse anesthetist.”
And according to Burke, with above a 4.0 grade point average and an impressive athletic resume, that shouldn’t be a problem.
“He’s extremely smart,” he said. “He’ll pretty much have his choice of what he wants to do.”