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Monday, Jul 16, 2018
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Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay girls soccer players of the year

Pinellas Player of the Year: MF Mary Raymond, Jr., Palm Harbor University

The numbers: Raymond scored 13 goals and added seven assists. She spent the first part of the season as the central defender.

Something about Mary: Raymond is the type of player coaches can use all over the field. And that's exactly what first-year coach Randy Irick did with her. Raymond started the season in her normal spot at center midfield. But after the Hurricanes lost 3-2 to Largo midway through the season, Raymond was moved up to forward to join Alivia Gonzalez. PHU didn't lose again until the Class 5A state semifinal at Oviedo.

"I was really excited (about the move) because I used to play forward when I was younger," Raymond said. "I like attacking and scoring goals. I think in high school that is where I like to play most. In club, I'm always at center-mid so it's fun to be up front scoring goals."

Also, Raymond qualified for the Olympic development team in the spring and took a trip to Germany for 10 days of training against German club and professional teams.

"It was amazing," Raymond said. "It's a different culture. Soccer is huge over there. When we played the women who were in their professional leagues, they were ridiculously good."

Season highlight: In the final game against Oviedo, the Lions had not allowed a goal the entire season. But Raymond broke that streak four minutes into the game when she launched a shot from 25 yards out into the upper right corner. Oviedo came back to win 2-1, but Raymond still thinks about the shot.

"Getting that goal was really exciting, being one of only two teams to score against them," Raymond said. "I just saw the ball in front of me and it was now or never. I was lucky to get a foot on it like that."

What's next? Raymond is committed to Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. Her club team qualified for a national tournament in Seattle this month.

Newsome’s Jenna Oldham (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)

Hillsborough Player of the Year: MF Jenna Oldham, Sr., Newsome

The numbers: Oldham set the school record for assists in a season with 32. She assisted in one-third of the Wolves' goals this season. She also added 23 goals, second on the team behind Sophie Schrader.

Something about Jenna: Oldham has played a big role in the Wolves' success over the past four years. She moved to Florida with her family when she was in eighth grade. She settled into the local club soccer scene and played for the West Florida Flames.

Her role since her freshman year was to be the central midfielder who distributed balls to the forwards.

"Jenna is the glue to our team," Newsome coach Kelly Jennings said.

Oldham said she didn't even realize she had the school record for assists until she was told by Jennings. She said helping her teammates score is the most fun part about playing the game.

"I like getting an assist more than scoring a goal," said Oldham, who was a member of the National Honor Society. "I have to know everything that is going on on the field and make sure the ball gets to the right place."

Season highlight: The season did not end on a high note for the Wolves. A state title contender, they lost 2-14 to Lake Nona in overtime of the region semifinals. The highlight, instead, was being on a team that won 20 straight games and only allowed three goals all season.

"I'm going to miss being around the team," Oldham said. "We were good all of the four years that I was there. I wish this season would've ended better, but it was fun playing with them all season."

What's next? Oldham will attend Boston University and play soccer for the Terriers. Her family will not be far away. They plan on moving back to the Boston area this summer after five years in Florida.

"It will be nice having them a few hours away," Oldham said. "I have family in Boston so I wanted to go to a school in that area."

Land O”Lakes Sydny Nasello (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times)

North Suncoast Player of the Year: F Sydny Nasello, Sr., Land O'Lakes

The numbers: Nasello was a goal-scoring machine for the Gators. She scored 45 goals and added 13 assists in her senior year. For her four-year career, she had 120 goals and 60 assists.

Something about Sydny: She is barely over 5 feet tall, but Nasello is one of the most dangerous forwards in the area, if not the country. She is a member of the under-18 women's national team and could get called up to the team for tournaments and friendly's throughout the summer.

"I'm hopeful that I will," Nasello said. "I thought I played well in the tryout camp. We'll see.''

Nasello also showed her versatility in an Elite Club National League tryout earlier this year. She was put at right back at the camp and was named to the top 11 despite never playing defense before.

"I've always played forward," Nasello said. "I was never a defensive minded player. But I got put at right back. I have absolutely no idea why they did that. I've never played there in my life."

One more nugget, she is the younger sister of Lacy Nasello, who is two years older and also played for the Gators.

Season highlight: In a rivalry game against Sunlake in the Class 3A, District 8 semifinal, the game was tied 0-0 at halftime. Sunlake had some momentum in the second half, but Nasello was able to score in what turned out to be a 1-0 win that kept the Gators' season alive.

"I was all over the net and couldn't get a goal," Nasello said. "After halftime they had all the momentum but we were able to hang on 1-0. That's got to be the highlight."

What's next? Nasello will play soccer at USF. She expects to be an attacking midfielder. She will have to get assimilated with her team quickly. Because of her U-18 national team commitment, she will not be able to join USF in the summer. She will move onto campus at the end of July, with the first regular-season game on Aug. 8.

Her goal is to play at USF for two years, then evaluate her chances of turning professional.

"My plan right now is after my sophomore year, if my stats are where I want them to be, then I'll declare for the (National Women's Soccer League) draft," Nasello said. "We'll see where I'm at. But the goal is to definitely turn pro at some point."

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