The fall soccer season may have concluded, but the search for Gatorade State Boys 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.
Senior midfielder, Cary-Grove (Cary, Ill.)
2011 Team record: 17-3 (Class 3A)
2011 Team standing: Lost Class 3A Barrington Sectional, regional championship game
2011 Goals: 14
2011 Assists: 16
2011 Points per game: 1.50
Career goals: 15
Career assists: 25
Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: University of Wisconsin
How he’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Directly responsible for 30 of Cary-Grove's 88 goals (34.1 percent). Recorded an assist in Cary-Grove's 3-0 win over Barrington (Ill.) in the first round of the Class 3A Barrington Sectional. 2011 First Team All-State selection. 2011 Northwest Herald Boys Soccer Player of the Year. No. 61 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNHS.
Senior midfielder, Lyons Township (La Grange, Ill.)
2011 Team record: 15-5-3 (Class 3A)
2011 Team standing: Lost Class 3A Hinsdale Central sectional semifinals
2011 Goals: 12
2011 Assists: 11
2011 Points per game: 1.05
Career goals: 37
Career assists: 41
Academics: B-plus average
Collegiate destination: Wheaton College
How he’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Recorded a goal and two assists in a 4-3 double-overtime loss to eventual Class 3A state champion Morton (Ill.) in the Hinsdale Central Sectional semifinals (Round of 32). Directly responsible for 23 of Lyons Township’s 41 goals (56.1 percent). 2011 NSCAA All-American. 2011 First Team All-State selection. Two-time Chicago Sun Times All-State selection. 2011 Chicago Tribune All-State selection.
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.
Brandon De La Torre: Senior forward, Boylan Catholic (Rockford, Ill.)
Ryan Howe: Senior midfielder, Boylan Catholic (Rockford, Ill.)
A.J. Jeffries: Junior midfielder, North (Downers Grove, Ill.)
Qudus Lawal: Senior forward, Mather (Chicago, Ill.)
Victor Zamora: Senior forward, Boylan Catholic (Rockford, Ill.)
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.