Tampa Catholic’s boys soccer team is starting to get recognized after ending years of frustration with its first state title.
Marcello Valbuena, who led the Crusaders in scoring, was named the Class 3A state player of year by the Florida Dairy Farmers.
The senior forward decided to play high school soccer for the first time this season after playing strictly at the club level. The University of Tampa signee finished with 36 goals and five assists. In the 3A state title match, Valbuena connected on two goals within an eight-minute span to give Tampa Catholic its first lead, one that would last the rest of the match.
Kevin McCarron, who led the Crusaders to runnerup finishes in 2016 and ‘19 before winning a title this year, was named the 3A state coach of the year. In 15 seasons, McCarron has a 163-100 record with the program, including a 25-2 record this season.
The winners in each classification were selected through voting from a statewide panel of boys soccer coaches and media representatives. They are now eligible to be named the overall winner in the state, which will go through another round of voting and likely be announced next week.