Ryan Vyskocil doesn’t remember when he first began playing soccer. Maybe kindergarten, maybe even sooner. But the Parsippany Hills senior is far more certain when he became a goalkeeper.
It was sixth grade, and the coach asked for two players to be in the goal full-time. It seemed like a surefire way to make the team, so Vyskocil volunteered.
He has rarely left the net – or the soccer field – since then.
Yet even Vyskocil, the 2012 All Daily Record Boys Soccer Player of the Year, acknowledged that his welcome to the high school varsity was far from ideal. As a freshman, he came on in the second half against Delbarton – and promptly gave up four goals.
But Vyskocil didn’t give up, earning the starting job as a sophomore and persevering through two seasons full of saves but lacking in victories. The Vikings scored only seven goals while winning three matches and tying two more in 2010 – two of those shutouts by Vyskocil. He had three shutouts and six victories as a junior.
But as Parsippany Hills grew up, so did Vyskocil – now a 6-foot-2, 190-pound vocal leader described by defender Manny Dance as “a second coach on the field.” Once afraid to speak up or come off his line, Vyskocil now thrives on the responsibility.
Vyskocil made 211 saves this fall, averaging more than nine per game. He finished the season with 10 shutouts as the Vikings went 15-5-3 and reached the NJSIAA North 2 Group III final. Vyskocil was also the goalkeeper for Parsippany SC, which won the Super Y-League U-17 national title two weeks ago.
“When you go against a keeper who opens his mouth and really communicates well with his team, that’s intimidating,” Vyskocil said. “I’ve played against other keepers who are more technically sound than me, distributing the ball with their footwork, but my competitiveness puts me ahead, being able to get to those 50-50 balls.”
That enthusiasm doesn’t wane much off the field either. Longtime teammate Andrew Ruane recalled racing Vyskocil around Lake Parsippany during the summer. Ruane, a Vikings defender, often took shots on his friend during captains’ practices – and sometimes Vyskocil would even flip the script and try offense himself. Ruane, Dance, and senior defender Sebastian Gallo have all become accustomed to hearing Vyskocil’s voice booming out instructions from behind him, “that little yell” of position adjustments.
Vyskocil said he hopes to continue his soccer career at Catholic University with an eye toward law school or possibly politics. He is also considering trying to make the team at Duquesne, Wesleyan and local options like William Paterson and Kean. For academics alone, Vyskocil has applied to Fordham, Lehigh, Middlebury, Bucknell and American. His favorite class is Parsippany Hills’ Institute of Political and Legal Education, a civics and government course where the students write bills and present them to a model congress, participate in mock trials, and hold their own election.
“He strives to be the best, and sometimes I’ve got to outdo him,” said Ruane, who also works with Vyskocil at Mountain Lakes Bagels on weekend mornings. “Him, me and Sebastian, we all pushed each other. He would always take all of us and go above and beyond.”