<
>

Eye on POY: New Jersey boys soccer

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.

Brandon Allen

Senior forward, St. Joseph's (Metuchen, N.J.)

2011 Team record: 14-6-2 (Non-Public A)

2011 Team standing: Lost Non-Public A championship game

2011 Goals: 26

2011 Assists: 10

2011 Points per game: 1.64

Career goals: 115

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: Georgetown University

How he’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Totaled five goals and two assists in the first two rounds of the Non-Public A postseason. Recorded nine multi-goal games including three hat tricks. Directly responsible for 36 of the Falcons’ 53 goals (67.9 percent). Traveled to Portugal with the U.S. Soccer U18 Men's National Team in May 2011. 2011 Soccer Coaches Association of New Jersey Player of the Year. 2011 NSCAA State Player of the Year. Two-time Greater Middlesex Conference Player of the Year. No. 11 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNHS.

Christiano Francois

Senior forward, St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.)

2011 Team record: 24-0 (New Jersey Prep A)

2011 Team standing: New Jersey Prep A state champions

2011 Goals: 44

2011 Assists: 22

2011 Points per game: 2.75

Career goals: 60

Career assists: 41

Academics: B average

Collegiate destination: University of Maryland

How he’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Scored at least one goal in 22 of the Gray Bees' 24 games and recorded at least one point in every game. Netted eight hat tricks, including five goals in an 8-0 thrashing of Walt Whitman (Bethesda, Md.). Directly responsible for 48.9 percent of SBP's goals on the season. Notched three goals and two assists in a 6-0 win over Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.) in the Prep School A semifinals, then had a goal and assist in a 4-1 win over Pennington School (Pennington, N.J.) in the state final. 2011 Newark Star Ledger New Jersey Prep Player of the Year. Two-time First Team State All-Prep selection. No. 17 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNHS.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Boys Soccer Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011-12 campaign.

Tom Bull: Senior goalkeeper, St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.)

Spencer Hambleton: Junior midfielder, St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.)

Cris Hernandez: Senior midfielder, St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.)

Mike Ryan: Senior forward, Cherokee (Marlton, N.J.)

Scott Thomsen: Senior midfielder, Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, N.J.)

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.