By Official Florida FC
Marcello Valbuena had to wait his turn to lead the line for Tampa Catholic. His patience was bountifully repaid.
Thursday, the senior forward was named Florida’s Mr. Soccer by the Florida Dairy Farmers.
Valbuena scored 36 goals and added five assists to help Tampa Catholic win its first FHSAA soccer title. The Crusaders finished 25-2, a mark that includes a 4-0 win over Class 7A state champion Naples Gulf Coast.
Valbuena, who transitioned to forward from defense this year, scored goals in 20 of the 25 games he played. His tally included a brace in the Class 3A state final against Westminster Christian; two more against Bolles in the semifinals. Valbuena scored 11 goals and assisted two others in eight district, regional and state playoff games.
He earned 12 of 17 first place votes and 134 points. Fort Myers Canterbury finished second while Lake Minneola forward Zachary LaPorte was third.
Florida’s 2021 Coach of the Year
Doral Academy’s Pamela McDonald was named Florida’s Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.
McDonald led the Firebirds to the Class 6A state championship, dethroning 2020 state champion Niceville in the final. She is the first woman to lead a boys soccer team to a state championship in state history.
The former Scotland international led Doral Academy to an 11-1-3 record this year and is 31-2-3 in the last two seasons.
In her 13 years at Doral Academy McDonald has won seven district championships, two regional titles and this year’s state championship. She did so with a vastly different roster than the one that entered the 2020 postseason undefeated.
Panama City Beach Arnold head coach Jonathan Hammond finished second in the Coach of the Year voting after leading the Marlins to a 25-0-2 record and the Class 4A state championship. Valbuena’s head coach Kevin McCarron finished third in the voting.