All-County girls soccer
Players of the Year: Jenna Butcfoski & Angie Santos (Harmony, juniors)
All-County Team: Harmony: Lindsay Larisa, Yeni Calles, Autumn Horn, Reinna Scott, Carlie Rucks. St. Cloud: Madelyn Barthle, Hannah Archibald, Andrea Hernandez, Aniesha Neff, Krystal Cruz-Torres. Osceola: Maritza Molina. Celebration: Paola DiDamaso, Isabella Foster. Gateway: Ortencia Abreu, Alyha Velazquez-Diaz.
Harmony’s girls soccer team won its third consecutive District 5A-9 title this past season. It was definitely a total team effort, but a pair of juniors helped elevated the team.
Midfielder Jenna Butcofski scored 10 goals and chipped in 23 assists from her outside midfield position, setting up teammates goals with passes and crosses and beating her defenders with speed and technique.
Goalie Angie Santos surrendered just nine goals on the year in 21 matches, and helped the team post 14 shutouts.
For their roles in continuing the Longhorns’ longtime dominance in the county and the district, Butcofski and Santos are the Osceola News-Gazette’s Girls Soccer Co-Players of the Year.
Coach Scott Marlega said they are good players, and just plain solid kids.
“My favorite thing about coaching them is they’re fun to be around,” He said. “They have great attitudes and know when to be serious and buckle down. Come game day and game time, they’re truly gamers. There’s no moment too big for them. They’re in game mode when they step on the pitch and I know I’m getting 100 percent effort and focus from them.”
Santos won the starting goalie job as a freshman and, now a junior, has not looked back since. This year was a reflection of everything the team has accomplished all through her career: her career line is 49-10-8, with 44 shutouts and a 0.52 goals-against average.
Santos isn’t one to wait on the ball to slip through the defense to come to her. She’ll come out and play balls with her legs and feet, one of the things Marlega said she’s really improved at.
“I’m eager to play. I like to come out an play, don’t want to known for just sitting back there,” said Santos, who began playing keeper in sixth grade. “I’ve worked to see the field and pay attention in case I need to make a play.”
Marlega said she’s capitalized on her natural size and athleticism.
“As the years have gone on she’s also grown in to a leader, vocally and by example. Now she dominates her box and is comfortable playing with her feet, to come out and play ball back to keep us in possession. She’s a true field player.”
Butcofski also earned a starting role her freshman year, played a lot of center midfielder as a sophomore as injuries dictated, and has started every game the last two seasons.
“Jenna is fast and athletic, aggressive and not afraid to go up for a 50-50 ball,” Marlega said. “She can play any position; what do we need? She can play up top or on the wing, can play center mid and be the distributor, or clog holes in the defensive midfield. She’s become very versatile and improved her ball skills; she can make any pass.”
Butcofski said she likes playing on the wing.
“My technique has gotten better, I’ve gotten faster on and off the ball, so I’m able to read the game better,” she said. “I’m working on technique to be able to beat defenders … and score more goals. My coach definitely wants me to work on that.”
Next year, they’ll be seniors, and if they can earn another playoff spot — the Longhorns will be in a new district with perennial powers Viera and Melbourne — the bar is set high: win in the playoffs for the first time in three years.
“We really think we could have gone farther this year, we have standards,” Butcofski said, noting a 1-0 loss to Jupiter in the regional quarterfinals that ended the 2017-18 season. “Next year we’ll have to step as a seniors and guide the underclassmen. Won’t be satisfied without at least a win in the regionals.”
Santos will be in her familiar spot in goal wearing the familiar keeper jersey, but “Where’s Jenna?”
“Ask me in November when we have a better idea what we look like, and who our opponents are,” Marlega said. “She’ll definitely be a dual threat; 20 goals? 20 assists? Who knows.
“I do know they’re now true students of the game, enjoy talking tactics and formations. In game they’ll see things. They ask questions and are eager to learn.”