The Statesboro Herald continues its salute to the seniors who played spring sports who had their seasons come to a close due to schools shutting down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bulloch Academy head boys soccer coach John Paul Padilla gave his thoughts on seniors Leo Mendez, Alton Amaral and Anthony Yu.
"Leo has been an essential part of the building of our program,” Padilla said. Leo is a four-year starter and three-time all region selection as well as being an all-state selection. Leo is not only our vocal leader but a kid who leads by example. He is always finding ways to better himself and help our team win.”
“As a goalkeeper he is without a doubt the best goalie I have ever coached,” Padilla said. He is smart, has quick reflexes, and a true understanding of the game. Our coaching staff could always count on Leo to really be that coach on the field for us, and lead our team. He was a crucial part in our back to back elite eight appearances, which is the first time our boys program has done that in 15 years. I am so very proud of Leo and can't wait to see what he accomplishes in the future. Leo will attend UPenn in the fall and will be sorely missed. A true Gator for life."
"Alton is another four-year starter at center back that we will miss dearly,” Padilla said. He is another kid who leads by example and always came to work. Alton is a smart player who was always thinking ahead and keeping our defense in line. Alton is the kind of kid whose impact does not show up on any stat sheet, he just always made the correct play and was a calming voice for our team.”
“Alton helped anchor a defense that opponents knew would be hard to score on,” Padilla said. We had only given up 2 goals this year before our season was cancelled. I am so proud of the growth of Alton as a soccer player. I know he will go on to achieve big things in his future. Alton will attend UGA in the fall, and will major in veterinary sciences. Alton is one our program will sorely miss, and he will be hard to replace on the field and in the locker room.”
“Anthony is a senior foreign exchange student from China,” Padilla said. “Anthony has been with us for four years, and what a four years it was. Our team could always count on Anthony when we needed a laugh, or a motivational speech. While he wasn't a starter, he knew his role, and always accepted any challenge we gave him. A reserve striker who has two career goals and one assist. Anthony is a kid who will give his all for his family. Our soccer team was a family and he would do anything to protect it, and make sure we knew how much it meant to our school. Anthony is someone we can not replace, and we will miss his big personality, and how much he loved BA soccer.”
As for the Lady Gators soccer program, head coach Grayson Fincham gave his thoughts on seniors Regan Ellis, Ann Marie Merrill and Allie Grace Williams.
“Regan has been a joy to be around in my time at BA,” Fincham said. “She’s an incredible athlete who has excelled at all sports she’s been a part of. An incredible competitor, and a great spirit. There’s never a dull moment with Regan around. She’s one of the most well rounded individuals I’ve had the pleasure of coaching. I know she will do great things as a softball player attending ABAC.”
“Ann Marie is an unquestioned leader for our team,” Fincham said. “She was the bridge between the coaching staff and the players. I knew I could trust her judgment. She was always ready to defend her teammates at any moment. One of the smartest students I’ve ever had, and one who would outwork anybody. My favorite trait of all though is how competitive and tenacious she is. She’s a tone setter, and I know she will be a force for the Auburn nursing program.”
Allie Grace Williams unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to play this season due to injury,” Fincham said. “She was scheduled to come back mid season. It’s one of the biggest what ifs because I know she would have had a major impact for the second half of the season. Not to be outdone, she was at every practice and game doing what she could for the team. An incredible teammate and good hearted person, she’s another one that always had everyone laughing. AG will assuredly light up Kennesaw's nursing program with her infectious personality.”