Bloomingdale senior Tara Escribano didn't lead the county in scoring, but she did lead her team to a Class 4A state title.
She is unassuming and polite. She can even strike one as shy, which might seem strange after watching her play.
On a soccer field, Bloomingdale's Tara Escribano turns into a force, and during this season's state title run, one could say, "undeniable force."
In seven playoff games, Escribano, a senior, scored five goals, including the game-winner in overtime to beat DeLand 3-2 for the Class 4A state title.
How good was she?
Just ask her coach, Sue Peet:
"A dream to coach, a leader, a go-to player. Not afraid of anybody. Determined. She stepped it up in the big games. I thought she was the most complete player we had. Great instincts. Strong. She would be attacking on the offensive end and then the next second she would be sprinting 50 yards downfield to make a defensive stop. She was all over the field in every game . . .
"I would be disappointed if anybody else got the player of the year award, because I think Tara is definitely the one who deserves it."
No need to worry Coach, Escribano is the Times All-County Player of the Year.
In the end, Escribano was far from the county's top scorer (she finished with 18 goals and seven assists for 43 points, or 23 behind the leader), but no other player connected on key shots in more critical moments:
She scored in a 2-1 victory against the nation's then No. 1 team, Palm Harbor University.
She hit the go-ahead goal in a 2-0 first-round regional victory against Sarasota Riverview.
She ripped a 20-yard free kick into the net in the 65th minute of a 2-1 come-from-behind regional final victory against West Palm Beach Wellington.
In the final four, she had three goals and an assist.
Looking back, Peet credits part of Escribano's and her team's success to losing in the 2000 state semifinals.
"I think we were scared going into the (2000 state semifinals)," Peet said. "But I think after that loss, the kids thought about it and realized they could play at that level.
"Tara and the whole team came into this season determined not to be intimidated by anybody, and I don't think they were."
Before the state tournament games, Escribano said, "I feel totally prepared for this state tournament. We've been through a lot and it only made us stronger.
"It's been a great ride. But we feel like we're prepared to take it a step farther and finish it with a state title."
Escribano plans to attend South Florida, but soccer might not be a part of her college career. If she wants to play, it looks like she'll have to walk on.
If she doesn't, she'll concentrate on her education, which shouldn't be a problem considering she's a straight-A student.
"I'm not worried about Tara at all," Peet said. "She's one of those wonderful kids who will succeed at whatever she puts her mind to.
"That's just the way she is."
ALL-COUNTY GIRLS SOCCER TEAMS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tara Escribano, Bloomingdale
COACH OF THE YEAR: Sue Peet, Bloomingdale
Name, School Pos. Yr. Comment
Alyse Migliaro, East Bay F So. Stepped up for Class 2A
Janessa Taddei, Plant F Sr. Led Panthers with 27
Becky Ware, King F So. County's leading public-
school scorer (65 pts.)
Tara Escribano, Bloomingdale MF Sr. Time after time, scored
key goals in state title run
Reagan Jones, Hillsborough MF Sr. Signed scholarship with
Shawna Kramer, East Bay MF Sr. Versatile, 16 goals, 13
assists in regular season
Kim Martins, Bloomingdale MF Sr. Time after time, set up
key goals in state title run
Jessica Bell, King D Jr. Led Lions to Western
Lyndi Bernhisel, BloomingdaleD Sr. Led Bulls defense that
was second to none
Beth Outlaw, Durant D Jr. Aggressive force, never
Stephanie Fowler, Brandon GK Sr. Athletic with great
Player Pos. School
Catherine MacMillan F Tampa Catholic
Cally Stolbach F Berkeley Prep
Amber Littleton MF Bloomingdale
Juliesse Maya MF Tampa Catholic
Kelly Owen MF King
Kristen Salvog MF Riverview
Lyndrea Sutherland MF Bloomingdale
Danielle Davilla D Bloomingdale
Lacey Miranda D East Bay
Jamie Shelton D Plant
Jackie Hinton GK Durant
Academy of the Holy Names _ Kathryn Steffans; Armwood _ Kaitlin Baker, Allison Brauner; Berkeley Prep _ Sara Deal, Coleen Kalifut, Niki Lanza, Alexi Riofrio; Blake _ Vanessa Martinez, Katy Nyquist, Jill Powers, Whitney Travis; Bloomingdale _ Lauryn Oser, Ashley Quaid, Megan Robey, Megan Snaider; Brandon _ Siobhan Perry; Chamberlain _ Rachel Christensen, Krista Jessup, Jackie Raffa, Julie Reyes; Durant _ Melissa Diamond, Jen Kelly, Beth Remmert; East Bay _ Kari Carlen, Katie Relihan, Lisa Verbosky, Anna Hernandez; Gaither _ Michaelene Cadiz, Kasey Kubly, Michelle Kmiotek, Ryan Sheppard; Hillsborough _ Emily Fedeles; Jefferson _ Chelsea Russell, Jennifer Selvig; King _ Megan Johnson, Mallory Toohey; Leto _ Katie McVeigh, Keri McVeigh; Plant _ Amanda Deloatche, Sara Disetzky; Plant City _ Colleen Feeney, Danielle Romano; Riverview _ Monica Sanchez, Heather Swanson; Seminole Presbyterian _ Shelly Lyle; Sickles _ Melanie Mitchell; Tampa Bay Tech _ Jenna Ball, Erin Dafeldecker, Janna Ward; Tampa Catholic _ Chrissy Cuppett, Ali Doyle, Lauren Goetzman; Tampa Prep _ Pam Sullivan; Wharton _ Krystle Jones.
_ SCOTT PURKS