California and Texas Youth Soccer Standouts Claim Top Award
The 2020-21 Gatorade National Soccer Players of the Year winners have been named in recent days, with the latest standouts from California and Texas. The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select the winners from nearly a million student-athletes who play soccer nationwide.
YOUTH SOCCER NEWS: In its 36th year of honoring the nation’s most elite high school athletes, Gatorade has named Alyssa Thompson of Harvard-Westlake High School (Los Angeles, California) and Bryce Boneau of Keller High School (Keller, Texas) as the 2020-21 Gatorade National Soccer Players of the Year winners.
Thompson and Boneau won the prestigious award for their accomplishments on and off the field, joining an impressive group of former winners. Past Gatorade National Girls Soccer Players of the Year have combined for 17 gold medals and nine National Championships, while past Gatorade National Boys Soccer Players of the Year have combined for 11 National Championships and 13 MLS first-round draft picks.
Thompson is the second-ever sophomore to receive the national honor for girls soccer. In overall program history across all sports, she is only the eighth sophomore to win a Gatorade National Player of the Year award.
Thompson and Boneau were surprised by their family, coaches and teammates at their respective schools. Mallory Pugh, Chicago Red Stars and USWNT forward, and Christian Pulisic, Chelsea FC and USMNT midfielder, also virtually surprised and congratulated the newly crowned winners.
Thompson topped the list of state winners in girls soccer who collectively boast an incredible list of accomplishments, including five returning state Gatorade Players of the Year, 28 with a GPA of 4.0 and above and 34 with signed Letters of Intent or verbal commitments to play soccer at Division I universities. Boneau surpassed the competition among state winners, which includes 22 with signed Letters of Intent to play soccer at Division I universities, 36 who volunteered at two or more organizations and 16 with a GPA of 4.0 and above.
“Alyssa is the perfect blend of physical ability and mental mastery of the game,” said Sheldon Shealer, a high school soccer reporter for TopDrawerSoccer. “Despite her small stature, she’s faster, smarter, more technical and more determined than players in her age group. Beyond being a great individual talent, she’s also a team player who helped Harvard-Westlake to a perfect season in what is arguably the strongest girls soccer region in the nation.”
Thompson, a 5-foot-4 sophomore forward, led the Wolverines to an 18-0 record and both the Southern Section, Division 1 and the SoCal Division I Regional championships this past season. Thompson scored 48 goals and passed for 14 assists, tallying a hat trick in a 5-0 win over Villa Park High in the sectional title game and four goals in a 6-1 win over Pacifica High in the regional final. She is a member of the U.S. Soccer U18 Women’s National Team and is ranked as the nation’s No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2023 by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Off the field, Thompson has donated her own money to No Kid Hungry, an organization that supports children dealing with food insecurity. She has also volunteered locally supplying PPE materials to hospital workers and hygiene kits to local foster children. Thompson has maintained a 3.52 GPA in the classroom. She has a verbal commitment to play soccer at Stanford University in the fall of 2023.
“For me, Bryce would be in the top echelon of the kids who played high school this year,” says Adrian Solca, executive director of Solar Soccer Club and the United Soccer Coaches Association 2019 National Youth Coach of the Year. “His technical ability is at a high level. His first touch with both feet is very good, he’s very agile, he always knows how to advance the play, he controls the tempo and he’s the kind of guy that makes the team tick. Either through consistency, or a brilliant pass or an extra run in front, he adds that surprise element in the offensive third from the midfield.”
Boneau, a 5-foot-10, a 155-pound senior midfielder, scored 18 goals and passed for 19 assists this past season, leading the Indians (17-3) to the Conference 6A, Region 1 tournament semifinals. The Dallas Morning News Offensive Player of the Year, Boneau was a Conference 6A First Team All-State selection. He is a three-time All-District selection despite missing significant time during both his freshman and junior years because of injuries.
Boneau has volunteered on behalf of the St. Barnabas Anglican Church in multiple capacities, including the Children’s Ministry. He is the president of his school’s Play it Forward chapter, through which he collects and distributes refurbished and reconditioned sports equipment to underserved youth. Boneau has also donated his time to the City of Keller, the local Daddy/Daughter Dance and the Community Storehouse Food Pantry in Fort Worth.
Boneau has maintained an A average in the classroom. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer at the University of Notre Dame this fall.
“For more than 35 years, the Gatorade National Player of Year award has been given to the most elite student-athletes across the country, making it the most prestigious award in high school sports,” said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien. “The past year has been difficult for all high school athletes, but Thompson and Bryce have persevered and we have no doubt they will have continued success in sports and beyond.”
Gatorade is dedicated to recognizing, supporting and keeping athletes in the game because of the lifelong skills sports instill on and off the field. Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators. Previous winners include a distinguished list of athletes, such as Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Jayson Tatum, Derek Jeter, Elena Delle Donne and many other sports icons.
Media Credit: Gatorade