Few players make the kind of immediate impact that Josh Ary did when he made the move from club soccer over to Niwot’s high school team.
From the moment he stepped onto the pitch for his junior season, the defender became the biggest menace to opposing teams, whether it be offensively or defensively. He ended his year with 11 goals and 10 assists, earning him a nod on CHSAA’s Class 4A first team all-state list as well as the Times-Call player of the year.
Niwot head coach Stephen Dimit witnessed his impact on an already-stacked program in real time, both inside and outside of competition.
“He gave us goals this year. He gave us great defending this year,” Dimit said. “It’s kind of whatever he was called upon to do in whatever game. Sometimes we asked him to try to score and sometimes we asked him to lock down the team’s best player, and he’s capable of doing both.
“He’s really talented, but I think the thing that sets him apart is just how competitive he is. He competes at training, he competes in games. He gave us such a huge edge this year. He makes everybody else better because he keeps it fun too and it’s not just all about grinding and competition. He’s still a jokester all the time.”
Whether he was dancing around at practice or calling out a teammate for not working hard enough, Ary wore many hats as both a leader and a player. He proved to be versatile in every facet of the game, a characteristic that helped vault the Cougars to the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state playoffs, where they lost to eventual state champion Northfield.
Ary, however, gives all the credit to his teammates.
“I can play outside back and I can play winger, but I think everyone around me highlighted me as well, because I was competing with the other guys up front for goals and assists,” he said. “I think that really drove me to be better and them to be better. I did do a lot and I scored a lot, but I think it was more of a team effort than people give credit for.
“Everyone can do anything. I mean, every player on the roster could have started at any moment. I think that differs because in a lot of clubs, you have a set 11 and then you have six behind them that aren’t as good. But here you had 22 that could have played at any given moment and would have done as well as the guy ahead of you.”
Ary relished the energy that came with the culture of high school soccer under the bright lights of Niwot High’s brand new turf field. He drew enthusiasm from the faithful Cougar crowd — which showed out even on the coldest of fall nights — and he fueled that energy right back to them.
Ary marked the team’s title win in an unforgiving Longs Peak League as the highlight of his first high school season, especially after the squad’s 2-3 start reduced the chances of that happening. The Cougars rebounded with grace, allowing just one goal through nine games of undefeated league play before unquestionably securing the crown.
The overall experience, he said, is one he won’t soon forget, and he’s not done yet.
“I’ll definitely be coming back to win state,” Ary said. “That’s the ultimate goal next year.”