Eye on POY: Kansas 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.

Evan Wright

Senior goalkeeper, Blue Valley (Stillwell, Kan.)

2011 Team record: 11-7-3 (Class 5A)

2011 Team standing: Lost Class 5A state championship game

2011 Goals allowed (AVG.): 29 (1.41)

2011 Saves (PCT.): 152 (84.0)

2011 shutouts: 5

Career shutouts: 11

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Saint Louis University

How he’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Posted a shutout in the 5A state semifinals against Kapaun Mt. Carmel (Wichita, Kan.). 2011 NSCAA All-American selection. 2011 First Team All-State selection.

Austin Clifton

Senior forward, Northwest (Wichita, Kan.)

2011 Team record: 21-0 (Class 6A)

2011 Team standing: Class 6A state champions

2011 Goals: 28

2011 Assists: 8

2011 Points per game: 1.71

Career goals: 51

Career assists: 18

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: Fort Hays State

How he’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Scored a hat trick in a 3-1 win over Blue Valley Northwest (Overland Park, Kan.) in the Class 6A state semifinals. Registered nine multi-goal games, including three hat tricks and one four-goal game. 2011 NSCAA State Player of the Year. 2011 NSCAA All-American selection. Two-time First Team All-State selection. Two-time First Team All-Greater Wichita Athletic League selection.

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.

Andrew Brown Senior midfielder/defender, St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.)

Eric DeJulio: Senior defender, Blue Valley Northwest (Overland Park, Kan.)

Isai Guitterez: Senior forward, Liberal (Kan.)

Eduardo Moreno: Senior midfielder, Liberal (Kan.)

Nate Opperman: Senior forward, Olathe South (Olathe, Kan.)

Clay Stewart: Junior defender, Olathe South (Olathe, Kan.)

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.