Paul Kolovos has been Palm Harbor's go-to guy for four years. This season, he capped off his prep career with 25 goals.
Ever since his freshman year, when Paul Kolovos was a new player on a new team, he has been the top dog.
Palm Harbor University had just opened, and among the group of freshmen and sophomores that made up the Hurricanes' first team, Kolovos stood out.
For four years, as the Hurricanes steadily improved, Kolovos was always the go-to guy. If Palm Harbor needed a goal, he was the first person to look for. If the Hurricanes needed an extra defender to protect a lead, count on Kolovos.
Four years of carrying the load could become a burden to some. Not Kolovos.
"I loved it," Kolovos said. "I loved taking the team on my shoulders. If we did well, then everyone thinks of you. And if we lost, I'd take the blame. I love that pressure."
Kolovos scored 25 goals for the 17-7-1 Hurricanes. PHU failed to advance past the district tournament, losing to Bloomingdale 2-0 in the semifinals.
But that doesn't diminish Kolovos' season as the Times All-County Player of the Year.
Next season, Kolovos likely will not be the top dog. He accepted a scholarship to Columbia University in New York City, turning down offers from Holy Cross and Wake Forest. He also turned down a chance to train with a professional team in Italy.
"He's done some things not only in high school but in club (Clearwater Chargers) as well that make me believe he can go far," PHU coach and club coach Pablo Pinzon said. "He's very skilled. I'm sure he'll do well in college, and who knows, maybe professionally."
Professional soccer runs in his family. His father, Demetri, played professionally in the Polish and Greek First Division before coming to America to play for the Philadelphia Fury in the North American Soccer League.
Kolovos has spent summers training in Poland and Italy. He doesn't plan to go overseas this summer, opting instead to play for the Clearwater Chargers before going to Columbia in August where he plans to major in business.
"I considered (training with a professional team)," Kolovos said. "But I decided that getting an education is more important. I would still like to play professional soccer some day. I like to be able to play in the States, but if I have to play overseas for a while I'd do that."
The Hurricanes are going to miss a player like Kolovos. Not only was he skilled, he was a team leader.
"There's not much you have to tell him," Pinzon said. "He's a very coachable player. All of his teammates look up to him. He's a great player to have on the team because the other players listen to what he says."
Kolovos said the four years went by quickly. While his role as a team leader didn't change, the team's success did. In the first two years, PHU struggled to stay near .500. Lately, the Hurricanes have done better.
"This year was the best year, even though we didn't make it past districts," Kolovos said. "You could see the team getting better and better. It was fun to see the team get better every year."
MEET PAUL KOLOVOS
SCHOOL/CLASS: Palm Harbor University; Senior
FAVORITE SOCCER CLUB: Napoli (Italian First Division)
FAVORITE ATHLETE: Zinadene Zindane (French national team player)
FAVORITE MOVIE: Gladiator
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Friends
FAVORITE ACTOR: Robert De Niro
FAVORITE FOOD: Stuffed peppers, tomatoes
FAVORITE SCHOOL SUBJECT: Economics
ALL-COUNTY BOYS SOCCER TEAMS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Paul Kolovos, Palm Harbor University
COACH OF THE YEAR: Bruce Toscani, Clearwater
Player Yr. School Comment
F Paul Kolovos Sr. Palm Harbor U 25 goals led the
F Steve Goodrow Jr. Clearwater 14 goals, 10 assists
led state champions
F Jason Zoffinger Sr. Osceola Dangerous player;
F Brandon Giles Jr. Seminole Has a nose for the goal
MF Dave Miller Sr. CC Catholic Versatile player; had
11 goals, 12 assists
MF Brett Wiard Sr. CC Catholic 12 goals, 6 assists led
MF Rob Bauman Sr. St. Petersburg Green Devils' top
MF Ricky Hanson Sr. Boca Ciega Has been a solid player
for four years
D K.B. Osborne Sr. Seminole Leader of Warhawks'
D Troy Friedlander Sr. Tarpon Springs Consistent player
also played midfield
D Mike Martino Sr. Clearwater Big defender was
GK Kyle Craig Sr. Osceola Won several games with
Player Yr. School Comment
F John Schultz So. Clearwater 9 goals, 10 assists and
big in playoffs
F Jeremy VoulgarakisJr. Tarpon Springs Spongers' top
F R.J. Schamp Sr. Northeast Leading scorer for
F Kyle Theil Sr. Countryside Had a breakout year
MF Steve Kimball Sr. Palm Harbor U Formed a good
tandem with Kolovos
MF Ian Cruea Jr. Clearwater Emotional leader of
MF David Schreck Jr. CC Catholic 10 goals, 6 assists
MF Buster Wiand Jr. Clearwater 8 goals, 9 assists
D David Glazer Jr. CC Catholic Team's main defender
D Tom Gluski Sr. Clearwater Major part of
D Travis Kramer Sr. Seminole Four-year player with
GK Brian Roe Jr. Clearwater Huge in state final
Clearwater _ Peter Merkle (D), Billy Callaghan (M), Travis Gero (D), Brandon Taylor (F), Brian Hahn (D). CC Catholic _ Justin Blatti (M), Chris Kein (D/M), Jeremey Chambers (GK). Countryside _ Brian Linn (GK), Brian Vroman (F), Chase Hobby (M); Lakewood _ Jason Denniston (M), Brett Norris (F), Tim White (F). Largo _ Travis Young (M), Tim Corbett (M). Northeast _ Asmir Pervan (F), Cody DeWitt (M). Osceola _ Ryan Spyker (D), Luis Nieto (M). Palm Harbor University _ Jeff Zahn (D). St. Petersburg _ Alex Vetrano (M), Mike Lewis (D). Seminole _ V.J. Catalano (GK), Damon Lister (D), Steven Toccalino (M). Shorecrest _ Michael Giroud (D), Michael Williams (G). Tarpon Springs _ Brad Welch (M), Eddy Thomas (M), Matt Brenner (D). _ RODNEY PAGE