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(Photo: Michael Chow/azcentral sports)
These are the eight nominees for the azcentral sports Arizona High School Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
During the azcentral Sports Awards live event at ASU Gammage on June 10, the list of eight will be whittled down to three finalists in each category.
By the conclusion of that show, azcentral sports will announce the 2017-18 Boys Soccer Players of the Year.
The nominees are listed in alphabetical order.
Ricardo Arteaga, goal keeper, Phoenix North
Arteaga, a senior, only allowed 10 goals in 19 appearances for an averaged to .52 goals per game. He helped his team to one of its best seasons in school history with a record of 15-3-1 and an appearance in the 6A state tournament.
Carter Clemmensen, forward, Phoenix Brophy Prep
Clemmensen, a senior who was an azcentral Sports Awards Player of the Year finalist in 2017, was arguably one of the most potent strikers in the state as found the back of the net for a state-high 39 times while also dishing out 13 assists. The UC Santa Barbara commit was also a two-time conference player of the year. There is no doubt that he will have much success playing under UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg’s attack-minded style of play.
Ethan Cohen, forward, Scottsdale Chaparral
Cohen led his team in scoring with 16 goals, added seven assists and helped his team to the 5A state final. He is strong forward who has the big frame to hold up play for his team but has also has the technical ability to turn his defender and take players on.
Tucker Fenton, attacking midfielder, Phoenix Sunnyslope
Fenton was top five in the state in goals with 31 and finished with 16 assists. A senior who has a nose for goal, Fenton finished with four hat tricks this season and even had a game where he scored five goals. His ability to keep his long-distance shots on target along with his ambitious attitude makes him a constant threat.
Sam Fletcher, midfielder, Phoenix Brophy Prep
Fletcher was the catalyst offensively for Brophy, whether it was with his passing or his excellent dribbling ability in tight spaces. Fletcher always seemed to find a way to create goal-scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates, posting seven goals and 18 assists. A team captain for the last two years, he will join teammate Carter Clemmensen at UC Santa Barbara.
Esteban Franco Jr., forward, Yuma Gila Ridge
Franco led the state of Arizona in goals (39), assists (28) and points (106). He had two assists to help Gila Ridge to a 3-0 win over Phoenix Cortez in the AIA 4A state title match. Franco finished the season with seven games where he scored three or more goals, and scored five in one game against Casa Grande.
Jesus Garcia, forward, Chandler
Garcia led the Wolves to an appearance in the 6A state semifinals, where they fell to eventual state champion Desert Vista. He was top five in goals (20) and assists (12) in 6A. Garcia is one of the most dangerous players in 1-on-1 situations as his quick feet and skill allow him to take advantage of any isolated defender.
Brendan Hicks, midfielder, Desert Vista
Hicks is the epitome of a true a ball winner, and has all of the physical qualities of a strong holding midfielder. Whether its in the air or on the floor, Hicks always manages to find a way to disrupt the other team’s offensive possessions. Yet, he still has the quality and the range to pick out passes from that deep-lying midfield position that every modern holding midfielder needs. Hicks tallied eight goals and two assists en route to a helping his team reach the 6A state championship.
A behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot at The Arizona Republic with the 2017-18 High School Soccer Player of the Year candidates.
Ervy Diaz, senior, Phoenix Trevor Browne: Finished the season with 21 goals and three assists leading his team to a playoff appearance.
Alfonso Cabrera, junior, Tucson Salpointe Catholic: Tallied 32 goals which is good for top five in the state and finished with 15 assists on the year. Led his team to the semi-final of the 4A tournament.
Michael Huss, sophomore, Phoenix Northwest Christian: Sophomore who is one of the top goal scorers in the state with 36 goals and fished with 82 total points, third-most.
Max Wennes, senior, Phoenix Desert Vista: Scored the goal to seal the 6A state title and capped what was an amazing run of 11 consecutive wins to finish out the season.
Rush Vance, senior, Yuma Catholic: Finished the season with only four goals allowed and a 3A state championship.
Bryan Lopez, senior, Phoenix Sunnyslope: One of two captains for Sunnyslope and finished the season with 24 goals and 14 assists.
Colton Shafer, senior, Gilbert Campo Verde: Part of the what was one of the most technical midfield trios in the state. Shafer helped his team to a 5A state championship win over Chaparral, finishing the season with four goals and 18 assists.
Blaise Hale, senior, Gilbert Campo Verde: Scored the long goal to clinch the 5A state championship. He finished the season with 18 goals and four assists.
Jacob Zimmerman, sophomore, Gilbert Campo Verde: Helped keep a clean sheet in the state final and finished with a 0.641 goals against average.
Ethan Fierro, senior, Phoenix Pinnacle: Finished the season with 11 goals, eight assists and helped his team reach the quarter final.
Tobin Shanks, senior, Phoenix Brophy Prep: Superb central midfielder who rarely lost the ball. However, still had the grit to get stuck in tackles like any other holding midfielder. Committed to SMU.
Eleuterio Gutierrez, junior, Yuma Catholic: Finished with 30 goals and 10 assists, helping his team to its fourth consecutive 3A state championship and finished with two goals to clinch the four-peat.
Ramon Urbano, senior, Yuma Catholic: Scored 30 goals and finished his Yuma Catholic soccer career with four state titles.
Kadid Rabo, sophomore, Chandler Arizona College Prep: Underclassman who found the back of the net 27 times and tallied 15 assists. He finished top ten in the state in total goals and had the lone goal in his team’s run to the 3A state final.
Sebastian Gutierrez, senior, Phoenix Arcadia: Helped his team to a playoff appearance after a three-goal performance in a 5A play-in win over Glendale.
Deric Hall, junior, Phoenix Brophy College Prep: A strong presence in the back four. A organizer, a ball winner and everything you look for in a defender. Helped Brophy to a .75 goals against average.
Marcos Hernandez, senior, Chandler: One of the most composed backs on the ball. His technical ability allows him to evade opposing strikers looking to press his back line and even played in multiple roles throughout the midfield. Scored nine goals and had two assists.
Bryan Bautista, sophomore, Chandler: Finished the season with a .80 goals against average, helping his team to the 6A semifinals. He is going to be a solid returning goalkeeper for Chandler next year.
Logan Rabasca, senior, Desert Vista: Came up big in the most important game of the season, anchoring the defense with a shutout of Brophy to win the 6A state title.
Alec Carroll, senior, Gilbert Campo Verde: Stature is misleading as he is not afraid to get stuck into a tackle but still has the touch to play the possession-oriented style that Campo Verde loves to play. He tallied seven goals and 12 assists.
Coach of the year
Trent Elliot, Desert Vista
Elliot took over as interim head coach and led his team to 11 consecutive wins to close out the season en route to a 6A state championship. Along the way the Thunder defeated one of nation’s top teams in Chandler in a state semifinal match and then shut out the best team in the nation up to that point in Brophy. Elliot displayed an ability to adapt to achieve the maximum results from his team.
Also considered: Paul Allen, Brophy Prep; Andrew Guarneri, Gilbert Campo Verde.
How they were selected
The eight nominees for Arizona High School Boys Soccer Player of the Year were selected by the azcentral sports high school staff during coverage of the 2017-18 season using first-hand observations, interviews with coaches and players, statistical analysis, rankings and player performance in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s state tournament.