The window on the Gatorade State Girls Soccer Player of the Year race is open, 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 USA TODAY team that administers the program’s selection process.
Senior forward, Madison Central (Madison, Miss.)
2012-13 Team record: 16-1-2 (Class 6A)
2012-13 Team standing: Ranked No. 1 in Mississippi by the Elite Soccer Report
2012-13 Goals: 27
2012-13 Assists: 13
Collegiate destination: Georgia (verbal)
How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Ranked the No. 48 national recruit in the Class of 2013 by Top Drawer Soccer, Crowder earned Second Team All-State honors as a sophomore and First Team All-State recognition as a junior last season. A four-year member of the Region III Olympic Development Program, she led the Jaguars to state titles in 2010 and 2011.
Senior goalkeeper, Tupelo (Miss.)
2012-13 Team record: 10-2-1 (Class 6A)
2012-13 Team standing: Ranked No. 2 in Mississippi by the Elite Soccer Report
2012-13 Shutouts: 9 2012-13
Goals allowed: 4
Collegiate destination: Alabama (verbal)
How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: A two-time returning First Team All-State selection, Stratton recorded 16 shutouts and allowed just seven goals as a junior, leading the Golden Wave to the state title match. She has played for the Region III ODP team for five seasons.
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 2012-13 campaign.
Hailey Brohaugh: Senior midfielder, Madison Central (Madison, Miss.)
Beth Coleman: Junior forward, West Jones (Laurel, Miss.)
Rhae’ven Ellis: Senior midfielder, Ridgeland (Miss.)
Addie Forbus: Senior forward, Amory (Miss.)
Tiffany Huddleston: Senior midfielder, Starkville Academy (Starkville, Miss.)