By Rubin E. Grant
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the remainder of the high school spring sports seasons in March, it ended the soccer career of one of the state’s most lethal players.
At least that’s how Hoover soccer coach Kris Keplinger described senior forward Sam Bauder.
“As a soccer player, he was dangerous,” Keplinger said. “He created problems for the other teams wherever he went on the field. That took pressure off our other players because they were concentrating on him.”
Bauder led the Bucs in scoring in 2019 with 15 goals and 14 assists as Hoover captured the Class 7A championship, earning their first state title since 2003 and finishing with a 19-4-3 record.
He was in the middle of another prolific season this spring with nine goals and nine assists when the season ended. He scored three goals in an impressive 4-0 victory against Auburn, two goals in a 6-1 victory against John Carroll Catholic and one goal in a 3-1 win against Enterprise, the team Hoover beat in the 2019 Class 7A championship game.
The Bucs had a 9-1-2 record, including winning the platinum division in the Lakeshore Shootout, when the season was shut down.
“That was heartbreaking,” Bauder said, “and sad for me because that’s where my soccer career ended.”
Bauder doesn’t plan to play soccer in college. Instead, he’s going to go to the University of Alabama and concentrate on being a student. He is going to study business, focusing on anti-money laundering.
“I mainly talked to Florida Southern College about playing in college because my dad played there,” Bauder said. “But soccer became more of a job than something that was a sport or something to do to have fun. I will always love it. I just think it was time for a change.”
Even though the 2020 season was cut short, Bauder was voted first-team All-State by the state soccer coaches association.
Bucs senior defenders Richard Ujueta, who earned state tournament MVP honors in 2019, and Carter Mock also were voted first-team All-State. Junior midfielder Dylan Steely was named to the second team.
Other Over the Mountain players selected to the All-State first team were Mountain Brook midfielder Pirmin Blattmann, Vestavia Hills midfielder Tony Shaw, Vestavia Hills defender Alex Holt, Oak Mountain defender Ryan Webb, Briarwood midfielder Bailey Morman and Indian Springs defender James Tozzi.
Bauder was one of 12 seniors on the Bucs’ roster this spring. He will always remember his career as a Hoover soccer player.
“Honestly, it was more amazing than I could have imagined, especially winning the state championship,” Bauder said. “I had a great time playing with all my friends and playing for some great coaches.”