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Boyko puts punch in Cobras' offense

The emergence of Hudson senior Billy Boyko as an offensive weapon has the Cobras scoring more goals than ever.

By JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 11, 2001


HUDSON -- Hudson is scoring more goals than ever, and midfielder Billy Boyko is leading the way.

Just the way coach Ron Ladimir figured, right?

"Not exactly," Ladimir said.

Not even close. When the 2000-2001 season started in November, Ladimir figured his leading scorer would be the same player it was last year -- Robert Pollock. If not him, then probably Morten Frette, a talented Norwegian transfer, or maybe even Jarle Thy.

Instead, it's Boyko, a senior midfielder whose 18 goals and 13 assists lead the team. Boyko's 49 points are second in Pasco County behind Zephyrhills' John Briscoe.

"He is finishing a lot better than he has in the past," Ladimir said. "The last two years he's had plenty of opportunities but now he's putting the ball in the back of the net. He's had at least four goals that are unreal."

Like his 25-yard rocket that curled just inside the upper corner of the net against Gulf, or the one-timer off a short hop in a holiday tournament game.

"The keeper was out of the box and cleared the ball and Billy short-hopped a volley right back over his head. Even I couldn't have done that," said Ladimir, a former North Suncoast Player of the Year.

The reason Boyko is making such shots is simple: he's taking such shots.

Though a starter the past two seasons, Boyko has been more playmaker than shot-taker. A talented player, the one-time forward typically deferred to others when it came to scoring.

But he never lost his hunger for zipping shots past keepers.

"I love to score, of course," Boyko said. "I didn't expect to do this well, though. I just hoped to show a little more than I did last year and stand out a little more."

Thanks to a streak early in the season in which he was scoring in almost every game, Boyko gained confidence and knew his final numbers would probably be noticeably better than the 12 and six goals he scored respectively his junior and sophomore seasons.

"That's what it is, his confidence," Ladimir said. "He's scoring and he's thinking a little more offensively now. When you start scoring you start getting wide eyes and more confidence to shoot instead of thinking about it. That confidence is big."

Boyko may be outscoring those Ladimir figured would lead his team (now 12-5-1), but he's only doing so because of them. Since Ladimir has been the Cobras coach, the team has always thrived with defense. But with the addition of forwards Dominick Thompson, Frette and Thy, as well as the presence of the dangerous Pollock, the Cobras have produced the first 10-goal games in Ladimir's three seasons -- and Hudson has four such outings.

"We all work well together," Boyko. "It has opened up some runs for me, and I am probably holding on to the ball longer than I have."

Not too long, though. Ladimir says the great thing about his team is his top scorers are all unselfish. Pollock leads the county with 19 assists, while Boyko and Thy are tied for second with 13.

Boyko doesn't expect to finish as the Cobras' leading scorer. He thinks eventually Pollock, who has been fighting injuries, will finish on top. And that's fine with him.

"I think he'll start getting it going," Boyko said. "I wouldn't mind. I'd rather win. This is my highest scoring and highest assist year, so I'm happy already."

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