ONALASKA, Wis. -

Bjarki Sigardarson means a lot to the Onalaska boys soccer team, almost as much as soccer has come to mean to him.

"[Soccer] has helped me a lot," Sigurdarson said. "The people are different, the culture is different, but everyone here is so nice."

Sigurdarson grew up in Iceland. He moved to Onalaska in April to live with his dad.

"I was used to being one of the best students in Iceland. It's a bit strange being the one that doesn't understand everything."

Understanding a new culture, however, is nothing to what Sigurdarson has had to try to understand about life.

"My mother had been sick, ever since her mother passed away, which was three years ago," Sigurdarson said. "She felt worse and worse. Then it just led to her drinking.

"Then when she started to drink more and more, that didn't go well with the medication. So she wasn't herself at that time. She just couldn't take it anymore, I guess.

"That was just the end of it. She couldn't take it anymore and decided to commit suicide.

"It was a very hard time for me and my brother and sister and the whole family."

During this difficult time, Sigurdarson had to make a difficult decision. He said goodbye to his best friends and left for Onalaska.

"It was either move with my dad out here to the U.S. or live with my friends, and that just didn't make sense. So I decided to try it out here, and I like it very well so far."

As the Hilltoppers' leading scorer, it's true: Sigurdarson means almost as much to the team as it means to him. Almost.

"Soccer has helped me to bond to the guys, who are just great. Every single one of them, they're just very nice," he said. "And to be this successful since I came here in soccer, and in school so far, has helped me to build up my confidence again and trying to just remember that there are more good things in life than bad things."

Sigurdarson said he's not sure whether he'll return to Iceland next year or stay in Onalaska.