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Monday, February 6, 2012
Eye on POY: New Mexico girls soccer

By Ben Rohrbach

The fall soccer season may have concluded, but the search for Gatorade State Girls Soccer Players of the Year is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.

Erika Nelson
Senior midfielder, Hope Christian (Albuquerque, N.M.)

2011 Team record: 17-5 (Class A-3A)
2011 Team standing: Lost Class A-3A state semifinals

2011 Goals: 15
2011 Assists: 22
2011 Points per game: 1.68
Career goals: 30
Career assists: 40

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: University of Maryland

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Recorded a goal and an assist in a 2-0 quarterfinal win over Bosque Prep (Albuquerque, N.M.). In nine Hope Christian games decided by two goals or fewer, totaled four goals and six assists (1.11 points per game), giving her a direct hand in 71.4 percent of the Matadors’ 14 goals in those nine games. 2011 Class A-AAA State Player of the Year. Two-time Class A-AAA District 4 Player of the Year.

Ashley Williams
Senior forward, Volcano Vista (Albuquerque, N.M.)

2011 Team record: 17-4 (Class 5A)
2011 Team standing: Lost Class 5A state championship game

2011 Goals: 37
2011 Assists: 14
2011 Points per game: 2.43
Career goals: 89
Career assists: 34

Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: University of Kansas

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Scored two of Volcano Vista’s three postseason goals. Recorded seven goals and four assists in 10 games decided by two goals or fewer (1.10 points per game), giving her a direct hand in 91.7 percent of her team’s goals in those games. 2011 Class 5A State Player of the Year. 2011 NSCAA State Player of the Year.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Girls Soccer Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011-12 campaign.

Dezirae Armijo: Junior forward, Socorro (N.M.)
Victoria Barba: Senior forward, Sandia (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Ruth Bruciaga: Junior midfielder, Volcano Vista (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Brisa Byford: Senior forward, Mayfield (Las Cruces, N.M.)
Courtney Dudley: Senior midfielder/forward, Cleveland (Rio Rancho, N.M.)
Kaley Smith: Senior defender, Eldorado (Albuquerque, N.M.)

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.