PLAYERS TO WATCH: 10 soccer players who could lead their teams to playoff success

·4 min read

The postseason has arrived for high school soccer, with district tournaments set to kick off on Wednesday with three different matchups involving Bay County teams.

With the regular season at an end, we take a look at some of the players who will have a chance to make a big impact in potentially leading their teams to deep postseason runs this year.

Girls

Zamiyah Hill, Mosley

Mosley sophomore Zamiyah Hill and Arnold sophomore Sadie Fish chase down the ball. Arnold and Mosley faced off in girls soccer at Gavlak Stadium Tuesday, December 14, 2021 with the Marlins getting the win 4-2.
Mosley sophomore Zamiyah Hill and Arnold sophomore Sadie Fish chase down the ball. Arnold and Mosley faced off in girls soccer at Gavlak Stadium Tuesday, December 14, 2021 with the Marlins getting the win 4-2.

The top goal scorer in Bay County this season, the speedy sophomore forward Hill has terrorized opposing defenders all season, scoring a school-record 33 goals, including 10 in her last four games.

Hill has had games with seven and six goals, with the latter coming on Jan. 10 against Choctawhatchee, who the Dolphins open up the District 5-2A tournament against on Wednesday night at Gavlak Stadium.

Zoe Looker, Arnold High School

Marlin Zoe Looker uses her head to advance the ball. Arnold hosted West Florida in a girls soccer regional semifinal matchup Friday, February 19, 2021.
Marlin Zoe Looker uses her head to advance the ball. Arnold hosted West Florida in a girls soccer regional semifinal matchup Friday, February 19, 2021.

The junior midfielder is perhaps the Marlins' most indispensible attacking player, scoring eight goals on the season and leading the team with 16 assists.

If Arnold's talented forwards such as junior Karen Jones (15 goals) and freshman Dresden Conrad (13 goals) are going to continue their scoring production in the postseason, they'll need to continue to receive top quality service from Looker.

Megan Meyer, North Bay Haven

Buccaneer junior Megan Meyer tries to get control of the ball in the first half. North Bay Haven took on Bay High at Gavlak Stadium Monday, November 29, 2021.
Buccaneer junior Megan Meyer tries to get control of the ball in the first half. North Bay Haven took on Bay High at Gavlak Stadium Monday, November 29, 2021.

The Buccaneers earned a first round bye into the 1-3A tournament semifinals where they will take on the winner of Bozeman vs. Walton – two teams North Bay Haven beat by a combined score of 16-0 in three regular season meetings – thanks largely to the play of the junior midfielder.

Meyer makes a big impact both as a defender and on the attack, helping organize the North Bay Haven defense while accounting for a team-high 13 goals with six goals and seven assists.

Haile Hallmon, Mosley

Mosley senior Haile Hallmon tries to chase Marlin goalie Allie Dalton to the ball. Arnold and Mosley faced off in girls soccer at Gavlak Stadium Tuesday, December 14, 2021 with the Marlins getting the win 4-2.
Mosley senior Haile Hallmon tries to chase Marlin goalie Allie Dalton to the ball. Arnold and Mosley faced off in girls soccer at Gavlak Stadium Tuesday, December 14, 2021 with the Marlins getting the win 4-2.

A team captain who has very recent experience winning on the biggest stage after helping led the Dolphins volleyball team to a state title, the senior midfielder has been a key figure in Mosley's success on the pitch as well.

On top of being a set piece ace as the Dolphins' go-to player on free kicks and corners, Hallmon has contributed six goals herself and provided a team-best 11 assists.

Skye Coan, Bozeman

Just an eighth grader, Coan has come on strong in her second season on the varsity, doubling up her seventh grade goal total from six to a team-leading 12 goals in the 2021-22 campaign.

Eleven of those goals have come in the last 10 Bozeman games and if a Bucks team that has struggled to score with just 27 goals all year is going to extend its season, it will likely need Coan to stop up and find the back of the net when they open District 1-3A play Wednesday against Walton.

Boys

Braden Masker, Arnold

Marlin senior Braden Masker chases down the ball. Arnold High School hosted Mosley in boys soccer Thursday, January 13, 2022.
Marlin senior Braden Masker chases down the ball. Arnold High School hosted Mosley in boys soccer Thursday, January 13, 2022.

Masker has simply been the most dominant boys players in the county this season, scoring a county-high 30 goals while also providing assists on 12 others, which also leads the Marlins.

The senior has scored or assisted on over half of Arnold's 82 goals, using his deft dribbling skills and elite footwork and creativity to wreak havoc on opposing defenders all season.

A complimentary player on last year's state title squad, if the Marlins repeat as champions this year Masker might be the biggest reason.

Addel Norales, Bay

Addel Norales celebrates his third goal as he looks towards the Bay High team bench. Bay High and North Bay Haven faced off in boys soccer at the Panama City Beach Sports Complex Wednesday, January 5, 2022.
Addel Norales celebrates his third goal as he looks towards the Bay High team bench. Bay High and North Bay Haven faced off in boys soccer at the Panama City Beach Sports Complex Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

The Tornadoes have been something of a one-man band this season, with the dynamic striker scoring 21 of the team's 50 goals for the year, assisting on five others.

Norales scored both Bay goals in a 3-2 loss to West Florida on Dec. 17 and he might have to come up with an even bigger performance when the Tornadoes take on the Jaguars in the District 1-4A semifinals next week.

James Betts, North Bay Haven

Buccaneer James Betts takes a shot in the rain. Mosley and North Bay Haven battled to a 1-1 tie in boys soccer at Bozeman High School Tuesday, December 7, 2021.
Buccaneer James Betts takes a shot in the rain. Mosley and North Bay Haven battled to a 1-1 tie in boys soccer at Bozeman High School Tuesday, December 7, 2021.

The junior Betts has been the Buccaneers' most productive offensive player this season, scoring a team-best 13 goals while adding six assists.

With an opening matchup against Bozeman and a looming semifinal against Walton, North Bay Haven has a clear path to the 1-3A title game but will likely need Betts to continue his recent run of play – he has seven goals in his last seven games – if it is to do so.

Lamar Clark, Mosley

Marlin senior Ridge Hatton and Mosley senior Lamar Clark go up for the ball. Arnold High School hosted Mosley in boys soccer Thursday, January 13, 2022.
Marlin senior Ridge Hatton and Mosley senior Lamar Clark go up for the ball. Arnold High School hosted Mosley in boys soccer Thursday, January 13, 2022.

The Dolphins might need some help to make it out of the district round and into regionals given that they open 2-5A tournament play against an Arnold team that outscored them 14-1 in two games this season.

If Mosley is able to get into the playoffs it will need to continue to receive production from Clark, who has accounted for a team-best 10 goals, scoring six of his own and providing assists on four others.

Ben Lebdaoui, Arnold

Ahmed Abdelhai from Bay High and Marlin Ben Lebdaoui go after the ball in first half action. Arnold hosted Bay High in boys soccer Monday, November 8, 2021.
Ahmed Abdelhai from Bay High and Marlin Ben Lebdaoui go after the ball in first half action. Arnold hosted Bay High in boys soccer Monday, November 8, 2021.

The senior has been a rock in the midfield for the Marlins this season. One of Arnold's most gifted passer, Lebdaoui has provided nine assists on the year while also contributing seven goals.

Lebdaoui has gotten better and more productive as the season has gone on, scoring seven goals and providing seven assists in his last eight games.

This article originally appeared on The News Herald: 10 PLAYERS TO WATCH: Athletes who might spark their team's playoff success

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