Players, coaches, parents, grandparents, and friends gathered at the Port St. Joe Jr/Sr High School commons room on Wednesday, April 19, to recognize the 2022-23 high school soccer teams.
After introducing the girls JV team, which head coach Justin Gerlach called “the blood of our program,” he recognized the girls varsity players.
“It was a fun year for us,” Gerlach said. “We started off slow, but began to gel as a team as the season progressed.” The youthful Tiger Sharks finished the season with a 9-9-2 record.
With only one senior on this season’s squad (Jesslyn Kuhnel), Gerlach said “I’m looking forward to next year.”
Gerlach said that he had nominated Kuhnel for the FHSAA All-State team, and then began handing out special awards. The first four were voted on by the players, the next two were based on game statistics, and the final six were decided by Gerlach and assistant coaches Celeste Chiles and Lindsey Alston.
Best Offensive Award: Alexa Pavon
Best Midfielder Award: RJ Gerlach
Best Defender Award: Lyriq Larry
Shark Pride Award: Jessica Dunn
Most Goals Scored: Pavon
Most Assists: Gerlach
The “Glue” Award: Molly Partin
Rookie of the Year Award: Katie Trochessett
“CYA” Award: Ruby Williams (Gerlach explained this as showing tenacity and not backing down) Swiss Army Knife Award: Jessica Dunn
12th Woman Award: Anderson Hodges
Co-Most Valuable Players: Pavon and Gerlach
Coach Gerlach also recognized the team’s ball girl, Eleanor Shoaf, for her loyal efforts to be at games regardless of the weather conditions, giving her a team warm-up jacket.
Although this was Brian Burkett’s first year as boys high school head coach, he was no stranger to most of the players, having coached most of them from an early age at recreational soccer.
Burkett noted that the team, which finished the year 11-6-3, “had a record of 8-2-1 before Christmas, and went 3-4-2 afterwards. So next year, I’m canceling Christmas holidays!”
In handing out special awards, Burkett noted that the first four were based on game statistics, while the others were by player vote.
Golden Boot Award: Jaydon Gant
Most Assists (Playmaker of the Year Award): Gant and Christian Peacock
Most Points: Gant
Most Steals: Lance Larry
Best Defender Award: Estevan Angel
Best Midfielder Award: Larry
Swiss Army Knife Award: Taylor Burkett
Maximum Effort Award: Burkett
Most Valuable Player Award: Gant
12th Man Award: Asher Peacock
Most Improved Player Award: Grant Bartley
When the final awards were given and the senior players had an opportunity to speak, both coaches had closing remarks, thanking their assistant coaches, players, parents, and volunteers.
Burkett also noted that he would be forming travel ball teams for the summer so that players can hone their skills before the start of the next season.