State qualifiers and top scorers highlight the six nominees for Girls Soccer Player of the Year and Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
The winners will be announced at the 2018 All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet on June 19 at Mario’s Banquet & Conference Center in Mission.
Sean Elliott, a former NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs who now works with the team as a broadcaster, will be the keynote speaker at the event.
The nominees for Girls Soccer Player of the Year:
>> Westyn Henderson, McAllen High: As a sophomore, Henderson did it all for the Bulldogs, playing sound defense and showcasing strong dribbling and shooting. The midfielder propelled her team to become the first girls team from the Valley to qualify for state. At the regional tournament, she moved to forward and scored the game-winner in McHi’s semifinal against San Antonio Johnson and assisted on the winning goal against Austin Lake Travis. She was named to the state all-tournament team.
>> Kryssie Rivera, Brownsville Pace: The MVP of District 32-5A this season as a senior, Rivera led the Vikings to the district title with a 14-0 record and to the third round of the 5A playoffs, finishing with 28-2-1 overall mark. She scored 56 goals this season and finished with 127 for her four-year varsity career
>> Kaitie Watson, Sharyland High: During her senior season, Watson put in 51 goals and assisted on another 21. Even as a key target for many teams, she shook off defenders to lead Sharyland to another district championship. She carried much of the offensive responsibility, including a dramatic free-kick goal to force overtime in her team’s second meeting against Sharyland Pioneer. The Rattlers won the game to secure the district title.
The nominees for Boys Soccer Player of the Year:
>> Mario De Los Santos, Valley View: De Los Santos scored 70 goals in 2018 to help Valley View reach its first state tournament since 2014. He led the Tigers to an undefeated (18-0) season in District 31-5A. He recorded 10 hat tricks on the season, including back-to-back hat tricks against Marble Falls and Brownsville Veterans in the regional tournament.
>> Jose “Chevy” Echevarria, Brownsville Lopez: The MVP of District 32-5A as a senior this season led the Lobos to the district title and to the third round of the 5A playoffs. He was also a standout in football and track, although soccer was his top sport. A four-year starter and last year’s All-Valley MVP, Echevarria finished this season with 32 goals and 25 assists.
>> Gerardo Reyes, La Joya Juarez-Lincoln: After a run to the state tournament in 2017, Gerardo Reyes gained a lot of extra attention from defenders. It didn’t matter. The Huskies were the best 6A team in the RGV and won another District 30-6A title behind Reyes’s 29 goals. The Huskies qualified for the regional tournament, falling to state runners-up San Antonio Reagan.
The banquet, hosted by RGVSports.com and AIM Media Texas in conjunction with the RGV Sports Hall of Fame, will see 33 awards presented to athletes, coaches and teams across all 12 UIL sports. The prestigious Tom Landry Award of Excellence will honor a student-athlete for outstanding achievements on and off the field.
The Monitor, Valley Morning Star, The Brownsville Herald, Mid-Valley Town Crier and RGV Sports Hall of Fame will vote to determine the winners in the sports categories. While The Monitor, the Star and the Herald have previously named their All-Area teams in certain sports, the All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet will recognize the very best across all three coverage areas.
The banquet, which will run approximately 6 to 8 p.m., returns to Mario’s for a second consecutive year. The venue has a seating capacity of more than 500 people. Tickets will be on sale soon at a cost of $40 per person. For sponsorship opportunities, call Marcia Kitten at 956-683-4463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.