High-SchoolFlorida: Soccer

Spit Your Game with Nico Hurtado

January, 4, 2012
Nico Hurtado is one of the state's deadliest strikers. Last year he scored 37 goals to break the Ransom Everglades single-season record, and this year he's already bettered that mark, with 38 goals through the team's first 15 games. He also became the school's career leader for goals, surpassing the old mark of 99. We caught up with Hurtado to ask him about his goals for this season and the recruitment process that resulted in a commitment to Princeton, among other topics.

Courtesy Hurtado-Ramirez Family/ESPNHSPrinceton commit Nico Hurtado of Ransom Everglades.
ESPHHS: How's the team looking?
NH: I think we are looking better than ever. We didn't have any of our starters graduate last year and our chemistry is at its highest. My high school team (Ransom Everglades) has a record of 14 wins, no loses, and one tie. We tied our archrival Gulliver Prep in a very close game and we hope to beat them this month on our home field. We have had a couple of injuries that we've overcome, but once we are healthy I believe we can go all the way to states this year.

ESPNHS: Last year you guys lost in double overtime to eventual state champ University School. Describe that game.
NH: Last year's University's game was probably the toughest loss of my career. We weren't accustomed to their big field and that made them have more possession than us throughout the game. However, we played our hearts out and did have clear scoring chances even one where I scored, but was called offside. We went back and forth for most of the game, but with just 5 minutes left before PKs they scored off of a cross and we were left in shock.

ESPNHS: Does that loss motivate you?
NH: I still play that game in my mind today thinking what we could have done differently. Knowing that they ended up wining the state championship and the fact that we have our starting 11 back makes our goal for this year to win the state shampionship. I believe that if we play our style of game, we can beat any team in the state.

ESPNHS: What was the recruiting process like? Best and worst parts?
NH: I can sum up my recruiting process in one word: intense. This last summer was stressful with visits and calls from coaches, but at the same time rewarding since I knew I was going to play soccer which I am so passionate about. The best part was knowing I was achieving my dream and that I got to know where I was going before my classmates. The worst part was all the pressure I felt about making the right decision; but at the end, I am very happy where I am going.

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Legendary Aquinas soccer coach retires

October, 19, 2011
A legendary St. Thomas Aquinas coach steps down, handing the reins over to a long-time assistant. Sound familiar? It should. Just as longtime Raiders football coach (and current athletic director) George Smith hung up his whistle before the fall, so too will boys' soccer coach Jobie Hughes retire from coaching before his team's season begins. Hughes coached the team for 28 years and led the Raiders to five state titles, including a championship last winter.

One of Hughes' former charges, Wes Byrum, kicked the game-winning field goal for Auburn in the 2011 BCS National Championship game. Byrum led the Aquinas soccer team to the Class 5A state semifinals as a senior in 2007 and was a member of the 2005 team that won state.

Sheldon Shealer has the story on the ESPNHS soccer blog.