Tampa Catholic’s Marcello Valbuena and Plant’s Quinn Ryan were named Alvarez award winners as the top boys and girls soccer players, respectively, in Hillsborough County.
The award presentation, now in its 37th year, was held during a dinner ceremony on Tuesday.
Valbuena became the first player from Tampa Catholic to win the Jose A. Alvarez award as the top boys player.
The University of Tampa signee, who decided to play high school soccer for the first time after spending years at the club level, took top honors after finishing the season with 36 goals and five assists. In the 3A state title match, the senior forward 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 to secure the Crusaders’ first state title in boys soccer.
“Marcello is the type of person who makes players around him better and the type of player coaches dream about coaching,” Tampa Catholic coach Kevin McCarron said. “Prior to this year he had always been a center back in a defensive role. But our team needed someone to step up and play forward this year, and he did without hesitation.”
Valbuena has already been named the 3A player of the year and Mr. Soccer, the two awards given to the top boys player in each class and the overall winner in the sport by the Florida Dairy Farmers. He also was selected as the Gatorade state player of the year.
Ryan won the Janet Alvarez award as the top girls player. It is the first time a player from Plant took top honors since Caroline Bado won the award in 2013.
As a senior midfielder, Ryan led the Panthers to an 18-2 record and a state semifinal appearance. The USF signee scored a team-high 33 goals, including six in the region finals, and had nine assists.
“Quinn has vision of play like no other,” Plant coach Alex Venegas said. “She has plenty of anticipation and is quick to the ball. As a striker and forward she has proven that once she has the ball on her feet it’s a sure score and why also name top scorer for two years in the county.”
Ryan’s performance helped her receive plenty of recognition. She was selected to the Western Conference team and was named the Class 7A state player of the year by the Florida Dairy Farmers.