Male Athlete of the Week: Buono leading the way for Warriors

Sean Buono

STEPHENS CITY – When Sherando boys soccer coach Patrick Anderson describes forward Sean Buono, it doesn’t take him long to point out the junior’s unselfish attitude on the field.

Buono, a three-year starter for the Warriors, has largely epitomized the word “playmaker” this spring. He’s a player with the speed and finishing ability to score goals, but with the awareness to know when to pass off a shot to a teammate for a better scoring opportunity.

“You kind of realize you can’t do it all yourself,” Buono said before practice Wednesday afternoon. “In the end it doesn’t matter how many goals you score, it’s how many goals the team scores.”

The Warriors scored seven of them in a blowout win at home over Northwestern District foe Skyline last week, and Buono played a direct hand in six of them.

Buono, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Male Athlete of the Week for May 2-8, scored three goals and contributed three assists as Sherando rolled to a 7-0 win in that May 4 match. The junior called the game a team effort that displayed the Warriors’ penchant for sharing the ball.

“A lot of times it was looking – especially for the three assists, it was in situations where I could’ve maybe taken another shot or something but I knew if I passed it off my teammate would have a better shot at it,” Buono said. “I think that part of it is what helped us score more goals. And even with my goals that I scored it was my teammates being unselfish and passing me the ball.”

That unselfishness has led to 13 different Warriors contributing at least one goal to the team’s total of 31 this season. Six of those players have scored at least three times.

Buono, who has had a great soccer mentor in his older brother Tommy, leads the way with seven goals and eight assists through Sherando’s 13 games.

Sean has a long way to go to match his brother’s scoring output at Sherando – Tommy had 22 goals as a senior last season and finished his career with 48, tied for second on the school’s all-time list – but following in his footsteps doesn’t rank very highly on Sean’s to-do list, as he prefers to “do my own thing.”

Still, Tommy’s fingerprints are all over Sean’s soccer career.

“He’s probably the main reason why I started soccer,” Buono said. “I wanted to do what he always did, so I kind of just got into it with him. And then he’s the one I’d always be in the backyard playing with. I’m not really focused on my soccer career as much as he was, so I was always helping him out. In doing that he also helped me out.”

Even Sean’s self-proclaimed greatest, and most improved, asset on the field – his speed – is a tool he credits directly to Tommy.

“The speed portion of it I think is from my brother, him always being faster than me,” Buono said. “I always wanted to work and be better than him, so we’d always race all the time.”

Buono said his finishing ability also continues to improve, although he’d like to keep honing that skill this spring and with his travel soccer team, Annandale United, with which he said he’s been able to increase his talent by playing in more matches since joining the team three years ago.

With that increase in talent has come an increase in leadership responsibility, as well. Buono said he embraces the pressure that comes with being one of the more experienced players on Sherando’s roster, and Anderson called the junior’s leadership his biggest growth since Buono’s freshman season.

“He’s kind of a quiet kid, but just through the example he sets – always being on time, always doing the little extra things throughout practice or at the game,” Anderson said. “If we talk about something he’s always the one to repeat it for me, like he recalls it later on, which is funny because I’m like at least one guy’s paying attention. So it’s neat to see that he pays attention to those little things. We might give them little quotes or something like that and he’s always recalling those things or applying them.”

Sherando, which got off to an uncharacteristic 2-4-2 start to the season, has since won four of its last five matches, including three straight shutouts. The Warriors have three matches remaining against Conference 21 West foes Woodgrove (on Friday), Handley and Millbrook before starting tournament play next week.

“We’ve really just tried to be staying more focused lately and I think that overall has led to an increase in our record,” Buono said.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com