Local soccer player scores prestigious statewide honor

Whenever the Land O’ Lakes Gators needed a score, Sydny Nasello was there to answer the call.

And, she delivered often, racking up 120 goals during her four-year varsity soccer career.

In this past season alone, the senior tallied 45 goals and 13 assists — guiding the Gators to the regional finals, a 23-3 record and undefeated (7-0) district mark.

Land O’ Lakes High School senior forward Sydny Nasello was named Class 3A Player of the Year. She tallied 45 goals and 13 assists this season, leading the Gators to a 23-3 mark. (File)

Her skills on the field — combined with remarkable statistics — have since garnered attention statewide.

Earlier this month, Nasello was named Florida Dairy Farmers Class 3A Player of the Year. She was a finalist for the 2018 Miss Soccer award, too, finishing third in voting by coaches and the media in Florida.

Locally, Nasello was a shoo-in for the Sunshine Athletic Conference Girls Soccer Player of the Year, also announced this month.

The recent accolades recognize Nasello’s commitment.

“When I first heard about it, it was just like everything I’ve been working for in life and just in soccer — like everyone else can see it and it’s paying off,” the forward/midfielder said.

Nasello added she’s proud to “leave a mark” at Land O’ Lakes, and to be an influence to the program’s younger generation.

She was one of a trio of Gators seniors, also including Brooke Hannigan and Morghan Craven, who played all four years on varsity.

During that time, the Gators went a remarkable 90-10-3 with three Final Four appearances, and captured three district and regional crowns apiece.

“I don’t think anyone has ever done that at Land O’ Lakes,” Nasello said, matter-of-factly.

Her role transformed, too.

“I went from freshman year, being like the little kid — super nervous, having all these older role models — to being the role model for the freshmen and the sophomores,” she said.

A University of South Florida signee, Nasello has sights set on a professional career in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Someday she hopes to represent the United States in the Olympic Games, too.

She looks to be on the right track for each.

She was one of just 24 players to take part in a training camp for the under-18 national teams late last fall in California. The U-18 team provides a transition for a number of players that could possibly make up the core of the team that would attempt to qualify for the following U-20 women’s World Cup, or even contribute to the current cycle of U-20s, according to the United States Soccer Federation.

“It was very beneficial,” Nasello said of last year’s tryout. “Basically you can compare yourself to the best of the best around the world, see where you stand, see what you need to improve upon, see what these girls are doing better than you, so you know where to start.”

Lauded for her speed, versatility and flashy attacking on-ball style, Nasello has worked on improving her runs off the ball “because that’s what my college coach wants me to do.”

She credits Gators head coach Vicky King as a key influence in her development as a player.

“She’s never let up,” Nasello said of her high school coach. “Like, she’s probably harder on me than she was any other player, and sometimes I would think, ‘She’s just being mean or whatever,’ but really she’s just pushing me to do my best in all areas of life, whether it’s on or off the field.”

King — who’s coached multiple Division I soccer players over the past three decades — describes Nasello as an “excellent player” who’s “really matured and grown over the last few years.

“She can be a difference-maker in the game. She has a nose for the ball and can play anywhere on the field,” King said.

“She’s really driven to succeed,” the coach added.

Part of it stems from her family’s ties to the game.

Those familiar with the local high school soccer scene are well aware of the Nasello name. Her two older sisters, Lacy and Holly, both were standouts at Land O’ Lakes and eventually played college ball, at University of Tampa and Point University (Georgia), respectively. Younger sister, Lexy, also plays soccer and her father, Tim, played college soccer.

Nasello strived to follow in the footsteps of Lacy — now a sophomore at University of Tampa — who she was teammates with at Land O’ Lakes for two seasons, in 2015 and 2016. Lacy was regarded as a stellar defenseman, with goal-scoring prowess.

“(Lacy) was basically the best of the best,” Nasello said. “She was the big, aggressive one, and I always looked up to her and always wanted to be who she was, what she was on the field, played at what her level was, so we used to work out all the time together in the summer.”

Being around other skilled, experienced players on the team also helped, her high school coach noted.

“We’ve had some other very talented players, and I think her observing them also helped her grow into a better player, as everyone always has someone to grow and improve like that,” King said.

Nasello is currently playing for the Tampa Bay United club soccer team and gearing up for the Elite Club National League championships in May.

Nasello is eager for the next phase of her soccer and academic career.

“I’m so excited to start college,” she said.

Her future USF coaches are also eager for her to arrive.

“Sydny is an amazing talent,” USF head coach Denise Schilte-Brown said in a released statement. “She is arguably the most creative attacking player to come out of the state in quite some time…We are tremendously excited to get her here on campus and continue her development at the next level.”

Published March 21, 2018

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