Greg Gudis makes his presence felt on the soccer field. A senior for the Staples soccer team, this past fall, he was a First Team All-FCIAC selection.

"It's not about the accolades I got," Gudis said. "It's a tremendous honor and something I worked for, for four years. I thank [Staples Coach] Dan [Woog] for nominating me and for the other FCIAC coaches for considering me for the position."

Staples won the FCIAC title and finished the year at 20-3-1 after losing 2-1 in the Class LL finals to Farmington. Gudis was instrumental in the Wreckers' success but because of an injury, he didn't play against Farmington.

"If I was playing, I would like to believe I would have been a factor but it's all speculation," Gudis said. "My teammates proved they could win without me (in the Class LL quarterfinals and semifinals)."

However, Farmington was much more formidable than Staples' opponents in the two previous rounds and just about all Westporters felt Gudis would have made a difference. He's one of the top finishers and his presence on the field would have made it more difficult for the Indians to cover his All-American teammate Brendan Lesch like a blanket.

"Greg would have had a great game on that small field," Woog said. "We missed his spark and his skill, that's for sure."

Gudis had 16 goals and nine assists for 25 points this year. After being a three-year starter and four-year varsity player, he finished his career with 49 goals and 41 assists and if he didn't miss the final three games of his career, there's a good chance he would have scored his 50th goal.

"Ever since I was young, shooting has always been my strength and it's easy to do when I have great teammates," Gudis said. "They set me up in good position and I have the easy part. All I have to do is finish."

Woog said, "Greg has always worked very hard at his game. He had a knack for scoring from many different angles, in many different ways. In many ways, he was a natural scorer."

His ability to fake out opponents and use his speed contributed to many tallies as Gudis left many stunned opponents in the dust on breakaways. He credits his hard work for his ability to find the openings and win battles in the scrum.

"If you have the mentality that you are going to win the ball, you will," Gudis says.

Finishing isn't his only strong suit on offense. Gudis is also an excellent passer and has set up many teammates in good position with the help of being able to see the field well.

"Vision has been my strong suit and I check over my shoulder to see where everyone is," Gudis says. "It comes from watching a lot of soccer and understanding the game. I've been playing soccer for awhile and I developed a skill of knowing where my teammates will be, which gives me an advantage over the opponents."

Woog moved Gudis from striker to midfield this year and made a smooth transition to his new position.

"Greg adapted quickly and well to midfield," Woog said. "He was a smart distributor; he was able to use his defensive skills and he contributed greatly on both sides of the ball."

Being the team player that he is, Gudis was happy to try midfield because it was beneficial for the Wreckers.

"Wherever the coach wants me to play, I'll play and if it puts the team at an advantage, I'm all for ti," Gudus says. "Adjusting wasn't tough because I'm a versatile player and it shows I can play other positions and not just forward."

During the high school offseason, Gudis has played sweeper for the Beachside Premier Soccer Club and was happy to do so because it was best for the team.

One position he won't play is goalie and it's not because he doesn't like playing there. Gudis admits, "I'd be detrimental to the team (if I played goalie)."

While playing sweeper for Beachside, Gudis is successful because he plays a smart game.

"I just stick my tackles, play physical and smart," Gudis said. "I don't jump into tackles and I'm aware of my surroundings."

Working to stay in shape and remain healthy also helped Gudis, who trains with Dr. EJ Zebro of Integrated Sports and Therapy.

"Dr. EJ Zebro has been a direct influence on my soccer game and I credit a portion of my success to him," Gudis says. "I wouldn't be where I am today without him."

Life on the soccer field began for Gudis at age four when he played with his father in the father backyard. His father also signed him up to play and never stepped off the field after that.

"I couldn't get enough of it and fell in love with the game," Gudis says. "When I get on the field, I feel like I'm in a different world and I drop everything. Soccer is a worldly game and has given me many opportunities and I hope it continues to give me oportunities."

Growing up, he also tried basketball and baseball but gave them up to focus on soccer.

Academically, he's taken honors and advanced placement courses all four years, including AP statistics and AP U.S. History. Physics is his favorite subject.

"You got to know how much you can do and how much you can't do," Gudis says. "If you think you can't do everything, you won't be able to. You have to find a balance between the three Ss, school, soccer and social."

Next year, Gudis will be playing for Division I Columbia University and major in biomedical engineering. Before choosing Columbia, he considered Dartmouth, Northwestern, the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis.

"Overall, it's a good school, I fell in love with the campus, it's close to home and my dad can go to all the games," Gudis says. "The team is a great group of guys and they made me feel welcome during the recruiting process. They were honest and the school was right for me."

In order for Gudis to play well for the Lions, he knows he'll have to raise his game to the next level because the competition will be a lot tougher.

"Listening to the coaching staff [is important] and playing the way I play," Gudis says. "The speed is quicker and I have to play quicker. I feel I can get to that level and play there, otherwise, they would not have taken me."

Woog is confident that Gudis will do well at Columbia.

"(Lions Coach) Kevin Anderson is a great coach," Woog says. "Division I soccer is tough -- it's physical and challenging, played at a fast pace both physically and mentally. I am sure Greg will use the winter, spring and summer to get himself ready for the next level."