Mariner girls soccer coach Jami Hagy received an early Christmas present last year.
She wanted to bring the best players in the region, whether in high school or college, to the same team.
The Cape Coral Cyclones were selected as the WPSL expansion team last December and are currently 4-1-1 in their summer season, which consists of 10 regular season games.
More: Meet The News-Press 2021 All-Area Girls Soccer Teams
More: Introducing the Naples Daily News 2021 All-Area Girls Soccer Team
“It was really exciting because we wanted to create this team so we could move on to football after these athletes left college and went to college,” said Hagy. “The fact that these athletes are coming back and actually want to go ahead and play for us again is fun because we’re bringing the best in the area back together.”
The best might be an understatement. There are a total of 31 All-Area First Team selections and seven All-Decade picks for the Cyclones between The News-Press and Naples Daily News.
These include Samford striker and former Mariner star Taylor Yount, who was twice finalist in The News-Press Girls Soccer Player of the Year, four times in the first team selection and a member of the All Decade team. She was named First-Team All-Southern Conference and All-Freshman-Team of SoCon for Samford in 2019.
Yount is reunited for the first time since graduating in 2019 with three of her former high school teammates – Karleigh Acosta (Northwestern State), Acelya Aydogmus (Northwestern State) and Symantha Campos (Lincoln Memorial).
“Overall, I loved training with them and having the opportunity to train with them and a lot of the girls I grew up with or played against,” said Yount. “It was also nice to meet new people and make new friends with other girls from different schools while competing and preparing to go back to school. Even some of the coaches are coaches I grew up with, so it’s nice to be able to play for them again. “
Aydogmus was among the state’s top goalkeepers in the 2016-17 season when she lost just seven goals in 22 games. After spending her freshman season at Troy, she moved to Northwestern State ahead of the 2019 season and was named Southland Conference Goalkeeper of the Year and First Team All-Conference in 2020.
“It was really amazing because Taylor, Karleigh and Sam are still good friends of mine,” said Aydogmus. “It’s basically like we’re picking up where we left off. We had great high school years together and we can now share some more experiences with this WPSL team, which is very cool.”
This is the first time Yount has played in a WPSL summer league and has liked the format and competition so far as he plays with other college athletes across the state.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the competition was good,” added Yount. “It’s nice to have a chance to train and play while waiting to go back to school. It’s also nice to be able to train and play with other college girls, that way we can prepare better and better suited when we return for the season. “
Mariner striker Ryleigh Acosta, Naples midfielder Lucy Froitzheim, Bishop Verot striker Kendal Garguila, North Fort Myers midfielder Michelle Horan and Gulf Coast midfielder Ria Vlachos stood up in a 3-0 win over the Florida Gulf Coast Dutch Lions on Wednesday night the place. All five were selected by The News-Press and the Naples Daily News last season.
Horan scored two goals at the end of the second half to seal the deal. The FAU commission said it was looking forward to being part of the Cyclones this summer, especially given the older and sportier competition.
“Being part of a team made up mostly of girls who’ve been into me for a couple of years introduced an aspect of physicality I’ve never faced before,” Horan said. “I am constantly being challenged by these new obstacles that are not that prevalent at my normal age.
“It’s nice to see something that is realistic for what I’m going to see next year in college and it helps me develop aspects of my game that have remained untouched in recent years.”
The FGCU student Malaya Melancon also uses the opportunity. The 2019 Sportswoman of the Year on Naples Daily News has the chance to play along with four of her college teammates – Lilly Lakich, Leah Scarpelli, Zoey Spitzer, and Lander Peck (Bishop Verot) – for a summer without the pressure of being in a. to play competitive setting.
“Now that this is our ‘offseason’ we all love having the opportunity to stay in shape and touch the ball while still having a pretty high level of play,” said Melancon, who is also the leading goal of Collier County’s goalscorer at 209. “We all enjoy playing on a team full of college players without the pressure of actually playing in school.
“And it’s even better to play with so many of my team-mates because we already have the chemistry and it helps us build on that, which I think is a really important aspect of the game.”
High school awards for members of the Cape Coral Cyclones
The News-Press / Neaples Daily News Player of the Year: Emilee Hauser, North Fort Myers (2019, 2020); Malaya Melancon, First Baptist (2019); Maggie Struble, Estero (2018)
The Finalists of the News-Press / Naples Daily News Player of the Year: Acelya Aydogmus, Seemann (2017); Emilee Hauser, North Fort Myers (2018); Malaya Melancon, First Baptist (2017, 2020); Zoey Spitzer, Gulf Coast (2017); Maggie Struble, Estero (2019); Ria Vlachos; Gulf Coast (2021); Taylor Yount, Sailor, (2016, 2018)
The News Press / Naples Daily News All Decade Teams: Acelya Aydogmus, sailor; Emilee Hauser, North Fort Myers; Malaya Melançon, Fulfilled by Amazon; Lander Peck, Bishop Verot; Zoey Spitzer, Gulf Coast; Maggie Struble, Estero; Taylor Yount, Mariner
The News-Press / Neaples Daily News First Team Pick: Karleigh Acosta, Mariner (2018); Ryleigh Acosta, Mariner (2021); Acelya Aydogmus, Mariner (2017, 2018); Amanda DaSilva, North Fort Myers (2018); Haley DeSanto, Estero (2017); Lucy Froitzheim, Naples (2021); Kendal Garguila, Bishop Verot (2021); Emilee Hauser, North Fort Myers (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020); Michelle Horan, North Fort Myers (2019, 2020); Malaya Melancon, Fulfilled by Amazon (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020); Lander Peck, Bishop Verot (2017, 2018); Zoey Spitzer, Gulf Coast (2016, 2017); Maggie Struble, Estero (2018, 2019); Ria Vlachos, Gulf Coast (2020, 2021); Taylor Yount, seaman (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Follow The News-Press and Naples Daily News sports writer Alex Martin on Twitter: @NP_AlexMartin. Follow for the best sports coverage in Southwest Florida @newspresssports and @ndnprepzone on Instagram.