This year, Fender was an even more crucial cog for Walton as the senior midfielder and the UCLA signee stepped to the forefront and took a leadership role for the Raiders.
Fender handled his increased responsibilities successfully for Walton as his 10 goals and 13 assists led the Raiders to the Region 5AAAAA title and a quarterfinal berth in the AAAAA state playoffs.
As a result, Fender is the 2012 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County boys soccer player of the year.
“It’s a big honor for me to be selected player of the year,” Fender said. “It definitely feels great and it shows that the hard work pays off.”
In addition to being recognized as the best player in Cobb County, Fender has also been tabbed as the top performer in the state after being selected as the Gatorade Georgia boys soccer player of the year.
Serving as the team’s quarterback in the midfield, Walton coach Bruce Wade was impressed with how Fender kept the Raiders operating so smoothly on offense.
“Obviously, Holden was the leader on offense,” Wade said. “He’s good at controlling the tempo of the game and he’s good at reading the game and switching the play.”
Fender had the challenging task of leading a younger Walton team that struggled early in the season as the Raiders tried to find their identity with several new players in the lineup and a new coach in Bruce Wade, who replaced long-time coach Bucky Boozer.
However, boosted by Fender’s leadership, Walton eventually got back on the right track and proceeded to win the 5AAAAA title — going undefeated in region play in the process. The Raiders went on to advance to the quarterfinals, where they lost to Parkview 3-2.
“We had lost some guys and we were starting two freshmen and we had a new coach, so we were getting to know each other,” Fender said. “As a senior, I had to help pull everybody together on the field. We got off to a slow start, but we started to gel after that. We were disappointed to lose in the quarterfinals after winning the state title last year, but it was a good year.”
Fender will be continuing his soccer career on the west coast after signing with UCLA.
“They have a great men’s soccer program and it’s a very good school academically,” Fender said. “UCLA has produced players who have gone on to play for the national team and that’s what I want to do, so I’m looking at the next step. It’s a great opportunity for me.”