High-SchoolPlayer-of-the-Year: Bunnell

Connecticut Boys Soccer POY: Zach Zurita

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
5:28
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A dedicated ESPNHS team managed this past fall's Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.

For his 29 fellow Gatorade State Fall Boys Soccer Player of the Year winners, click here.

THE WINNER: Zach Zurita

THE BASICS

School: Bunnell (Stratford, Conn.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Forward
Height: 5-foot-9
Weight: 155 pounds

THE PILLARS

Athletic achievement: Zurita led the Bulldogs to a 20-2-2 record and the Class L state championship this past season. He scored 43 goals and passed for 14 assists, including 11 goals and three assists in the state tournament. The 2011 Connecticut Soccer Coaches Association Player of the Year and an All-American selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Zurita had a goal and two assists in Bunnell’s 3-0 win over Avon (Conn.) for the state title. He concluded his prep soccer career with 96 goals and 42 assists.

Academic excellence: Zurita has maintained a B-plus average in the classroom.

Exemplary character: He has volunteered locally as a youth soccer coach and has worked at Soccer & Rugby Imports in Southport.

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Eye on POY: Connecticut boys soccer

February, 16, 2012
2/16/12
4:49
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The fall soccer season may have concluded, but the search for Gatorade State Boys Soccer Players of the Year is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.

Zach Zurita
Senior forward, Bunnell (Stratford, Conn.)

2011 Team record: 20-2-2 (Class L)
2011 Team standing: Class L state champions

2011 Goals: 43
2011 Assists: 14
2011 Points per game: 2.38
Career goals: 96
Career assists: 42

Academics: B-plus average
Collegiate destination: Monmouth University

How he’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Had a direct hand in 14 of the Bulldogs' 17 state tournament goals (82.4 percent). Scored a goal in all but three games this past season, including 14 multi-goal games. 2011 Connecticut Soccer Coaches Association Player of the Year. 2011 Connecticut Post Most Valuable Player. Two-time New Haven Register All-Area MVP. 2011 NSCAA All-American selection. Two-time NSCAA All-New England selection. 2011 Greater New Haven Referee Association Boys Player of the Year. 2011 Class L State Tournament MVP. No. 72 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNHS.

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The Gatorade Player of the Year Program honors athletes who meet comprehensive and exacting criteria in high school sports. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders also must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNHS recruit rankings.

That being said, the state's returning First Team All-State selections are sure to enter the 2011-12 Gatorade State Volleyball Player of the Year conversation at some point. Here they are …
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POY Potential: Top 5 Conn. Football Recruits

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
8:36
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The Gatorade Player of the Year Program honors athletes who meet comprehensive and exacting criteria in high school sports. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders also must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNU's recruit rankings.

That being said, the state’s top five football recruits as ranked by ESPNU are sure to enter the 2011-12 Gatorade Football Player of the Year conversation at some point. Here they are …

Casey Cochran
Christopher Beauchamp/ESPNHSCasey Cochran is Connecticut's No. 1 senior recruit.
1. Masuk High (Monroe, Conn.) quarterback and returning Gatorade Connecticut Football Player of the Year Casey Cochran

  • Height: 6-foot-1
  • Weight: 214 pounds
  • College: Connecticut (verbal)
  • Traits: Accuracy, arm strength, reads
  • ESPNU scouting report: "This guy is a very productive, competent passer that possesses a live arm, good feet and above average athleticism. He reminds us of Rutgers QB Chas Dodd both in style and stature. The downside with Cochran is that he lacks ideal height, but does possess a significant amount of bulk."

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