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Vignali named Gatorade North Carolina Boys Soccer Player of the Year

Izaiah Vignali (WLOS Staff).jpg

CHICAGO – Izaiah Vignali of UNC Asheville men's soccer has been named the Gatorade North Carolina Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

Vignali enrolled at UNC Asheville in January of 2018 from A.C. Reynolds High School. He is the first Gatorade North Carolina Boys Soccer Player of the Year to suit up for the UNC Asheville men's soccer program.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Vignali as North Carolina's best high school boys soccer player. He scored 23 goals and had 12 assists this season and led the Rockets to the 3A state title game.

Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year award to be announced in June, Vignali joins an elite alumni association of past state soccer award-winners, including Alexi Lalas (1987-88, Cranbrook HS, Mich.), Steve Cherundolo (1996-97, Mt. Carmel HS, Calif.), Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy, N.Y.), Heather O'Reilly (2001-02, 2002-03, East Brunswick HS, N.J.), Matt Besler (2004-04, Blue Valley West HS, Kans.), Jack Harrison (2013- 14, Berkshire HS, Mass.) and Mallory Pugh (2014-15, Mountain Vista HS, Colo.).

"For Izaiah Vignali to win the Gatorade Player of the Year, that's a great honor, not only for him but for A.C. Reynolds, HFC and UNC Asheville," UNC Asheville men's soccer head coach Mathes Mennell said. "I think that everyone that has played a part in his development is to be lauded for that. Izaiah has done a great job of settling in at UNC Asheville and he just got his first semester out of the way. He did a good job on the field and a pretty good job in the classroom. As he kind of settles in for us and Asheville City this summer, we're really excited about what he's going to be able to do in the classroom, in the community and on the field for us in the fall of 2018. He's a special young man and we could not be more proud of him and his accomplishments. It just adds to a very impressive resume and we feel pretty confident that he is going to continue to build and add to that resume while playing here for UNC Asheville."

Vignali is one of the most decorated recruits to ever join the UNC Asheville men's soccer program. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound midfielder from Fairview, N.C. is a 2017 United Soccer Coaches Association All-American and he was the 2017 North Carolina High School Soccer Coaches Player of the Year.

An all-state selection, the A.C. Reynolds product was the 2017 WMAC Co-Player and the 2017 Citizen-Times Western North Carolina Player of the Year. Vignali also was a member of the inaugural squad for Asheville City Soccer Club in 2017.

Vignali owned a 3.82 grade-point average in high school.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Vignali will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support. The 12 spotlight grants – one for each sport – will be announced throughout the year.

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