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Eye on POY: Alabama girls soccer

The window on the Gatorade State Girls Soccer Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes 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.

Bailee Harnett

Senior midfielder, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.)

2012 Team record: 28-2

2012 Team standing: Class 6A state champions

2012 Goals: 29

2012 Assists: 33

Career goals: 39

Career assists: 46

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Air Force Academy

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Averaged 2.2 points per game this season. Leading scorer on state title team. 2011 All-Metro selection as named by The Birmingham News. 2011 Class 6A Second Team All-State selection.

Alicia Hereford

Senior defender, Huntsville (Ala.)

2012 Team record: 24-2

2012 Team standing: Lost Class 6A state semifinals

2012 Goals: 15

2012 Assists: 3

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Auburn (NLI)

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Averaged 0.7 points per game this season. Led defense that allowed 11 goals. U.S. Youth Soccer Region III Olympic Development Program member. Two-time Elite Soccer First Team selection as named by the Huntsville Times.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Girls 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.

Simone Charley: Junior forward, Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.)

Kayla Dowler: Junior forward, Mountain Brook (Ala.)

Haley Gerken: Senior midfielder, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.)

Toni Payne: Junior forward, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.)

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.