HUDSON — Dominique Cirnigliaro is, perhaps, a living legend.
The Hudson High girls soccer senior, who’s committed to play at Division-II West Florida, is certainly leaving a lasting legacy for one the Cobras best but definitely unexpected seasons.
“We knew we’d be competitive, we just didn’t know much about the new district,” said fifth-year coach Stephen Jones, who, in his first season in 2009-10, took the team to a region final berth. “Once we played the other teams we could set our goals and make them realistic. Once we played everyone the first time, we started shooting for the No. 1 seed.”
Well, Hudson (19-4-1, 13-2-1) now has the No. 1 seed heading into the Class 3A-District 7 tournament, hosted by Brooksville Nature Coast. That’s in part for two reasons: outscoring opponents 115-25 and Cirnigliaro’s county-high and school-record 50 goals this season.
“Honestly, I never expected to score that many, but I couldn’t have without my team,” said Cirnigliaro, who now has a 98 career goals as four-year starter. “I wanted to leave a mark my senior year and I’m a forward — it’s my job to score goals.”
Cirnigliaro led the Cobras in scoring since she was a freshman, though never scored more than 20 her first three years. Now, she has broken the school record of 47 set by Scotty Combs in 2008-09 and shattered the girls record of 29 Lindsey Zullo set the same year.“She’s a very strong, very physical player and that’s why she’s going to do well at the next level,” Jones said. “She’s going to fit in perfectly there. Her freshman year, I heard a lot about this tall, redheaded girl who’s really good. I didn’t see her until tryouts and then knew she’d be a special player for four years.”
The lone captain and one of two seniors, Cirnigliaro took charge after the team stumbled to a 1-3-1 start, but the Cobras would win 18 of 19 games to close out the season.
“I always believe in this team,” said Cirnigliaro, whose freshman sister, Brittany, is the team’s stacenter midfielder and has 15 assists, second only to Domonique’s 21. “Coach Jones has goals for us, and we have high expectations. We go on the field expecting to win, but I’ve noticed, this year, that it’s anyone’s game. We have to work harder than the teams we know will be the most challenging for us.”
That should be Nature Coast (14-3-2, 13-2-1), which is the No. 2 seed after they split the season series. Hudson grabbed the top seed because it tied and beat No. 3-seed Fivay (14-5-2, 12-2-2), while Nature Coast split its series with the Falcons.
But with that, Cirnigliaro looks to keep her legacy alive by trying to get the Cobra’s third region berth in the five seasons under Jones.
“The season she’s having is just as dominating as any other player in the county has had,” Jones said. “That’s cool to see, but what’s also great is she’s leaving a legacy here that other players coming back or coming in are going to want to live up to. That’s been the best part about her this year.”
Correspondent Mike Camunas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MikeCamunas.