A pair of incoming Georgia soccer freshmen have garnered Gatorade Player of the Year honors for their respective states.
Marion Crowder of Mississippi and Rachel Garcia of Georgia received the prestigious honors from the Gatorade program, which annually recognizes one winner in each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia in 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 and field.
Crowder is a midfielder/forward out of Madison, Miss., playing high school soccer at Madison Central and with the Mississippi Fire club team. As a senior in 2013 she scored 37 goals and chipped in 17 assists, leading the Jaguars to an 18-3-2 record and a place in the Cass 6A state quarterfinals. She is a member of the U.S. Soccer Federation U-18 Women’s National Team and was a first team all-state selection, named Miss Soccer by the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. She maintained a 3.7 GPA and volunteered locally on behalf of U.S. Youth Soccer TOPSoccer Program, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and at local food drives for the needy.
Garcia is a forward out of Duluth, coming to UGA from Greater Atlanta Christian School and the GSA Phoenix club. She scored 53 goals and added 19 assists for GAC this season, leading the Spartans to a 19-2 record and a place in the Class AA state final. Garcia was named the 2012 Gwinnett County Player of the Year and the Region 6AA Player of the Year, wrapping up her high school career with 146 goals and 45 assists. She has a 4.01 GPA and has volunteered at local homeless shelters, as a youth soccer coach, and through service missions to Guatemala and Mexico.
Garcia is the fourth UGA soccer player to earn the award in the Peach State since 2007, joining Laura Eddy (2009), Ashley Baker (2008), and Marah Falle (2007).
In all, Georgia has seen a total of 14 players earn 17 Gatorade Player of the Year honors in six states, including Susannah Dennis in 2008-09 (Tennessee), Stacy Hunt in 1998 (Georgia), Anna Beth Fuller in 2001 (Alabama), Kristin Garman in 2005 (Tennessee), Ashley King in 2005 (Tennessee), Elizabeth Metherell in 2000 (South Carolina), Geneil Newbern in 2001-02 (Tennessee), Andrea Velasco in 1998-99 (New Jersey), and Jessica Winton in 1999 (Georgia).
The Bulldogs kick off the 2013 season in exhibition action against The Citadel at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 at the UGA Soccer Stadium.