Brian James, American Heritage: Post All-Area small school boys soccer player of the year
Friday, March 26, 2010
by Cristina Ledra
Brian James. (Photo by Ray Graham / The Palm Beach Post
Last year, when Brian James saw his American Heritage teammate Hasani Sinclair named Palm Beach Post Player of the Year, it became James' goal to do the same.
"I needed to be a leader and I had to play really good and help out the team every single game," James said.
A year later, after becoming the Stallions' captain, James earned the same award, capping a stellar sophomore season in which he scored 29 goals and added 33 assists while leading American Heritage to the Class 2A state semifinals.
"Every year he's shown improvement," said his coach and father, Alvin. "He knows how to control the tempo of the game, when to speed up, when to slow down. His has the ability to find his forwards at critical positions so they can finish. He's really come into his own.
"The sky is the limit for him."
Brian, who had a career-high five goals against Grandview Prep in the district finals, was already a technically gifted player, but he wasn't a leader until this season. It turns out the role suited him.
"The players realize his work and they're willing to emulate him, so he's a leader on the field — a quiet leader — but a leader," Alvin said.
Brian could have his pick of the top soccer colleges in the nation, or a chance to play overseas. This summer he will train with the Chelsea Football Club of the English Premier League after being chosen from a Disney Showcase during the winter break.
But for the time being, his focus is on leading the Stallions to a state championship.
"I'm most proud of how we came together as a team this season and how we played," he said. "I wish we could've gotten another ring but we didn't, but there's always next year. We're looking forward to next year."
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Alvin James, American Heritage
Coached the Stallions to a 23-5-1 season that included another trip to the state tournament.
Goalkeeper: Fabiano Chaves, American Heritage, Sr.
Led all area goalies with 16 shutouts and .730 goals-against average.
Forward: Chris DiMario, Glades Day, Sr.
Consistently one of the area's top players, had 14 goals and six assists.
Forward: Khori Foster, American Heritage, Jr.
Gifted and versatile player, scored 19 goals and added 13 assists.
Forward: Andrew Hanssen, Boca Raton Christian, Sr.
Highly skilled player, had 24 goals and five assists for the Blazers.
Forward: Afonso Lanzeloti, Grandview Prep, Sr.
Had a standout season despite opponents concentrating on stopping him.
Midfielder: Andrew Ortiz, King's Academy, Jr.
Scored 18 goals and added 12 assists for the Lions.
Midfielder: Verneri Valimaa, American Heritage, Jr.
Scored 21 goals and also contributed 18 assists to lead the Stallions.
Midfielder: Henry Penagos, American Heritage, Sr.
Technically strong, crafty player who the Stallions heavily relied on.
Defender: Eric Cantor, St. Andrew's, Sr.
Had six assists and was team captain for the district champion Scots.
Defender: Juan Britos-Vidal, Trinity Christian, Jr.
Had 12 goals and 12 assists while splitting time between defense and midfield.
Defender: Troy Manheimer, American Heritage, So.
Fierce defender who possesses a great understanding of the game.
G: Ryan Johnson, Pope John Paul II, Sr.
F: Jao Almeida, Grandview Prep, So.
F: Mike Miranda, Pope John Paul II, So.
F: George Naranja, American Heritage, Jr.
M: Josh Knoess, King's Academy, Sr.
M: Robbie Aron, Trinity Christian, Sr.
M: Jackie Kim, Saint Andrew's, Sr.
M: Eddie Guerreo, Okeechobee, Sr.
D: Guilherme Martins, Grandview Prep, Jr.
D: Jason Wellington, American Heritage, Jr.
D: Mike Cioci, Pope John Paul II, Fr.
Jupiter Christian — C.J. Soviero, Alan Donth; Okeechobee — Eddie Guerreo; King's Academy — Jake Nicholson; Cardinal Newman — Stefan Hirsbrunner, Jeff Dubs; Clewiston — Mason Cole, David Villegas, Rickey Martinez; St. Andrew's — Chris Kirby, Chris Willie, Pablo Ramirez, Cody Illeck; Pahokee — Victor Paniagua, Jose Perez; American Heritage — Connor Hagan.