LIVE OAK — It was a banner season for area soccer teams.
Both Suwannee and Lafayette were crowned district champions and won a playoff game. Hamilton County won 13 games and advanced to a district championship game for the first time in school history.
Here’s a look at some of the best players in the Suwannee Valley who helped the Hornets, Bulldogs and Trojans achieve outstanding results on the pitch.
Leading Lafayette to the best season in program history was junior forward Emmanuel Tovar, who scored an area-best 33 goals. Tovar, though, had help from a handful of Hornets. Midfielder Omar Carreon, a sophomore, scored 22 goals to provide Lafayette a potent second threat.
Anchoring the Hornets’ defense were Yonathan Perez and Gabe Vervisch, who also were all-Suwannee Valley honorees.
Suwannee, meanwhile, won its first playoff game since 2004 and just the second in program history behind a stingy defense and a pair of dangerous forwards.
Junior keeper Zach Lopez was at the back of that defensive effort from the Bulldogs and earned recognition on the All-Suwannee Valley team after averaging 11 saves per game, while giving up just more than one goal per game. He was helped by a good Bulldog defense that included junior Oscar Rodriguez, an All-Area selection.
Also representing SHS were its two top scorers in senior forward Grayson Gill and sophomore CJ Joyner. Gill scored a team-high 12 goals for the Bulldogs, while Joyner added 11 goals and nine assists using his speed to aid Suwannee’s playoff push with goals in both district tournament games and its first-round win against Wakulla.
Suwannee’s last first-team selection was senior midfielder Yimmy Alvarez, who scored two goals and also had eight assists.
The Trojans’ banner season was led by a pair of midfielders in senior Malakai Perez and sophomore Omar Lopez. Lopez scored a team-high 21 goals, while Perez notched 10 goals to go along with three assists.
Defender Julio Celiz also earned All-Suwannee Valley honors for Hamilton County.
Honorable mention selections include Hamilton’s Jeremiah Gibson, Noah Kersey, Roman Perez, Keerin Swayze and Miguel Thomas; Lafayette’s Jose Resendiz Jr. and Quentin Sutley; and Suwannee’s Victor Rodriguez and Cade Valin.
Some of the All-Suwannee Valley players were selected for the North Florida All Star game in Ocala on March 14.
For HCHS, Malakai Perez and Noah Kersey will compete. Yonathan Perez will represent LHS and Cade Valin and Grayson Gill will play for Suwannee.