BELLEVILLE - When you average nearly 30 goals a season in high school soccer, you're going to get some attention from colleges.
Add Andrew Miller, the Belleville Mennonite forward who scored his 100th career goal midway through his senior season, to that club. Miller announced his next stop will be East Stroudsburg University at a ceremony Wednesday.
"Early on in his career we knew he was a scorer," said Brian Renno, the Thunder coach. But 100 goals?
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Belleville Mennonite School senior Andrew Miller, front center, signs Wednesday to play soccer at East Stroudsburg University in the fall. Joining him are his parents, Barb and Stu Miller, front; and back, athletic director Allyson Zook, soccer coach Brian Renno and superintendent Starla Fogleman.
"I didn't think it was out there - our career record here at BMS was like 54," he said. "To double that was unimaginable when he first started out. But sophomore year, junior year when he put up 40 goals ... surely somebody will be looking for a scorer."
Miller, who added 34 helpers to go with 117 career tallies, had his biggest year in high school not last fall but in 2012, when he scored 43 of those goals. He had 35 as a sophomore but only 26 this season, when most teams knew to mark him on the field.
His 100th came Sept. 24 against Grace Prep.
Miller said the scoring was one reason East Stroudsburg coach Rob Berkowitz had an interest.
"He originally said that I can come to the school and go through preseason," Miller explained. "East Stroudsburg has needed strikers for a while. He said, 'You play forward, you've score over 100 goals - if you show up fit you're going to be on the team.'
"I like that chance."
Miller also likes the school for the right reason - he's inclined to follow in his mom's footsteps and become a nurse, and the program at East Stroudsburg is notable.
"My sister-in-law graduated from there. There's maybe three or four D-II colleges in all of Pennsylvania that do soccer and offer nursing. So it was a very small choice," he said. "And at East Stroudsburg, 95 percent of the students passed the boards last year, which is very good."
Renno's expectations for Miller remain high, just as they were on the pitch in Belleville.
"I think he has the capability and the capacity to play at the next level," Renno said. "We've had some D-III, we've had some junior college players here. But as far as a Division II player, the school has never produced anything like that. It's new territory for us."
And, he said, he'll miss his top producer over the last four seasons.
"He's been a huge asset to the program the last for years," Renno said. "We've relied heavily on his ability to put the ball in the net. It's come naturally for him to score. I think if I had played him on defense he'd have had a knack to score the ball anyway, from somewhere."
Miller is happy because he's getting the best of both worlds.
"I play on a club team in Harrisburg and everyone on my team is playing soccer in college," he said. "I've always wanted to play soccer in college - I wanted to play D-I but it's way too much work. Besides, D-II is still really competitive."