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Eye on POY: Nebraska boys soccer

The window on the Gatorade State Boys Soccer Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes 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.

Gabe Garbin

Senior defender/midfielder, Lincoln East (Lincoln, Neb.)

2012 Team record: 12-6 (Class A)

2012 Team standing: Lost District A-7 tournament championship game

2012 Goals: 14

2012 Assists: 7

Career goals: 16

Career assists: 12

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: Creighton University

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Averaged 1.17 points per game this season. 2011 First Team All-State selection. 2011 Lincoln Journal Star Super State selection. Region II Olympic Development Program team member.

Matt Pritchard

Senior forward, Creighton Prep (Omaha, Neb.)

2012 Team record: 18-1 (Class A)

2012 Team standing: Class A state quarterfinal vs. Norfolk (Neb.) May 10

2012 Goals: 17

2012 Assists: 7

Career goals: 61

Career assists: 25

Academics: B average

Collegiate destination: Northern Illinois University

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Averaging 1.26 points per game this season. 2011 Lincoln Journal Star Super State selection. 2011 Class A First Team All-State pick. 2010 Class A Second Team All-State honoree.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Boys 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.

Brock Fitzgerald: Junior midfielder, Pius X (Lincoln, Neb.)

Nyambi Jabang: Senior forward, South Paulding (Douglasville, Ga.)

Michael Kluver: Junior goalkeeper, Skutt Catholic (Omaha, Neb.)

Brian Talcott: Senior goalkeeper, Millard North (Omaha, Neb.)

Lucas Venegas: Junior midfielder/forward, Grand Island (Neb.)

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.