Gatorade National AOY Finalist Spotlight: Lucas Mendes, Boys Soccer

Gatorade National AOY Finalist Spotlight: Lucas Mendes, Boys Soccer

Gatorade Player of the Year

Gatorade National AOY Finalist Spotlight: Lucas Mendes, Boys Soccer

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AOYFinalist_Mendes

(Photo: HSS Illustration)

For the more than 30 years, Gatorade has honored the nation’s most elite high school athletes for their athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character with the Gatorade Player of the Year award. On July 13, the 12 Gatorade National Players of the Year from the 2015-16 season will gather in Hollywood, where the 13th annual Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year award will be presented to the best overall male and female athlete.

In the days leading to the presentation, USA TODAY High School Sports will profile each of the 12 candidates — six boys and six girls.

This installment features National Boys Soccer Player of the Year Lucas Mendes from Washington-Lee High in Arlington, Va.

Washington-Lee High (Arlington, Va.) senior forward Lucas Mendes was named the 2015-16 Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year. The 5-foot-5, 125-pound playmaker led the Generals to an 11-0-2 regular-season record. Mendes scored 21 goals and passed for 13 assists in leading Washington-Lee to its first Virginia 6A state championship in his first year playing high school soccer after previously playing with D.C. United in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Ranked as the No. 24 recruit in the Class of 2016 by College Soccer News, he attended a training camp with the U.S. Soccer Under-20 Men’s National Team in January.

Mendes was named a Youth All-American for club soccer by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America in 2015. He was also recognized as a U.S. Soccer Development Academy First 11 honoree. Mendes still leads his D.C. United club squad in goals (8) and points (17) despite leaving the team to play as a prep two months and six games ago.

MORE: Mendes named Gatorade National Player of the Year

“I still can’t get my head around the fact I’m holding this trophy,” said Mendes, 18, a Virginia signee. “I’m speechless,” he added before burying his face in his hands and breaking down in tears.

The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Mendes is now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.

MORE: Q&A with Mendes

Mendes has maintained a weighted 3.22 GPA in the classroom. A member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he has volunteered locally as a youth soccer coach. He has also donated his time to the Color of Leadership Conference, where he served as a mentor and participated in workshops to help middle school students of color discover and apply resources to achieve their personal goals.

MORE FINALISTS: Jayson Tatum | Katie Rainsberger | Jacob Eason | Khalia Lanier | Kyle Muller | Ella Stevens | Erin Boley

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