Eye on POY: Connecticut girls soccer

The fall soccer season may have concluded, but the search for Gatorade State Girls 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.

Sarah McCauley

Sophomore forward, Chase Collegiate School (Waterbury, Conn.)

2011 Team record: 15-3-1

2011 Team standing: Lost in New England Prep School Athletic Council Class D semifinals

2011 Goals: 35

2011 Assists: 15

2011 Points per game: 2.78

Career goals: 64

Career assists: 32

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: HS Sophomore

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Had a direct hand in 50 of Chase’s 59 goals (84.7 percent) this past season. Amassed five goals and five assists in two games as Chase won the Housatonic Valley Athletic League tournament title. 2011 NSCAA All-New England selection. Two-time NEPSAC Class D All-Star.

Paula Hagopian

Senior forward, Kingswood-Oxford School (West Hartford, Conn.)

2011 Team record: 5-7-2

2011 Team standing: Did not qualify for NEPSAC Class B postseason

2011 Goals: 13

2011 Assists: 10

2011 Points per game: 1.64

Career goals: 56

Career assists: 35

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Yale University

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Had a direct hand in 23 of Kingwood’s 37 goals (62.2 percent). 2011 Connecticut Soccer Coaches Association Player of the Year. Two-time NSCAA All-American selection. Four-time NSCAA All-New England selection. Four-time First Team All-State selection. Contributed to all six goals during K-O's run to the 2010 NEPSAC Class B tournament championship.

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.

Shannon Colligan: Senior forward, Greenwich (Conn.)

Jessica Fontaine: Junior forward, Northwest Catholic (West Hartford, Conn.)

Elise Galip: Senior forward, Bristol Central (Bristol, Conn.)

Samantha Grasso: Sophomore forward, St. Joseph (Trumbull, Conn.)

Catherine Higgins: Junior defender, Northwest Catholic (West Hartford, Conn.)

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.