Area's best player, Presnick, gets better.
Amber Presnick wasn't satisfied.
Despite earning All-Citrus/Hernando Player of the Year honors as a ninth-grader in 2000, the Citrus midfielder went into the off-season with one goal _ get better.
To accomplish this, she traveled to Hillsborough County twice a week to play for a select 16-and-under club team based in Temple Terrace. At practice and in matches, Presnick went head-to-head with other standouts _ some of whom had skills superior to hers.
"That helped me out a lot," Presnick said. "The level of competition is so good and everybody wants to be there. I got all my confidence from there."
More confidence led to more aggressiveness. And, more success. "I think I played better this year than last year," Presnick said. "I improved a lot. Everything improved, and I was a lot more confident with the ball. I would take on people more and take more shots."
In 2001, Presnick, a sophomore, again distinguished herself as the area's premier player, leading Citrus to a 21-2-3 record while finishing second on the team in goals (29) and first in assists (18). Her 76 points was the area's second-best total and trailed only teammate Amy Bowen's 80.
"She really picked up her aggression this year, more so on the defensive side," Citrus coach Brady Bogart said. "She started not letting the other team start anything in the midfield, which really made her a total team player. She controlled every game we were in."
Behind Presnick, the Hurricanes completed their second consecutive 20-win season. Along the way, they claimed Gulf Coast Athletic Conference and Class 2A, District 7 titles and reached the second round of the state playoffs, where they lost to state-ranked Orlando Bishop Moore 2-1.
"If you call her a good player, that's like calling Moby Dick a goldfish," Hernando coach Rick Ahrens said. "She's just toying with us around here. It's kind of like a cat playing with a mouse."
Presnick, again, was the area's best passer, but became more of a three-dimensional threat. Her defense dramatically improved, and she took more shots, which led to more goals. Presnick made 36 percent of her attempts (29 of 80), the top average among offensive players on her team.
"Her vision of the whole field and her accuracy passing the ball is tremendous," Bogart said. "And she has the ability to dribble through any defense and control the whole game. When we played bad, she took it on herself. She thinks, "If Amber goes, we go,' which is somewhat true, and you want kids like that."
Presnick will spend the off-season on the field, doing her best to get better. Ultimately, she would like to earn a college scholarship, preferably to the University of Florida, where her older brother, Cory, runs cross country. "She's the best I've seen in five years as a coach," Bogart said. "She has the ability and work ethic to play at UF or anywhere she wants."